Arts and Healing

Two weeks ago, 15 members of Boston’s healing arts community gathered to consider the various roles of health and healing in Boston’s arts landscape. Boston's strength in this sector is unique, due to the close proximity of its world-class academic, cultural and medical institutions.

The group was a diverse one, including artists and musicians who work in medical facilities, expressive arts and music therapists, music educators, physicians and architects. Several of the participants are members of BACH, Boston Arts Consortium for Health, which gathers regularly to share knowledge about how to promote the healing arts in our community.

All of us have been living at the intersection of arts and healing throughout our careers. The lively discussion touched on these questions:

    -- Who do the healing arts serve in Boston?

    -- How do the arts heal?

    -- Who has access to the arts for healing?

We came up with some compelling observations. Here’s a sample:

    -- Participation in the arts fosters creativity, develops positive thinking, and enhances resiliency – all of which are pathways to health and healing.

    -- The arts are a human right. Access to the arts and engagement in the arts is a means of preventive health.

    -- Patients engaged with music during medical treatment such as chemotherapy can experience decreased anxiety and feel less pain.

    -- Caregivers and patients in Boston healthcare settings can benefit from spaces intentionally designed with well-being and healing in mind.

    -- In K-12 education, teachers can be encouraged to utilize the arts not only for education but for stress relief and resiliency.

In the future, we envision that the paradigm be shifted, that the arts for healing be viewed as the common expectation, a world where it is universally accepted that the arts promote health and well-being - including children, the elderly, and those with disabilities – and are accessible to all.

We look forward to being an active part of the conversation as Boston moves forward in its strategic plan for the arts.




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