Art creation and art appreciation are well-established niches in health care. Art therapy and the use of music in particular are found in many hospitals and other clinical settings and also play a major role in not-for-profit fundraising.
But New Jersey health system officials and a nearby university would like to see that relationship expanded in different ways, and have formed a partnership to figure out how they can get more involved in each other's business.
Atlantic Health System and Montclair State University together are aiming "to become a leader in arts and health care and help future leaders to advance in both of these fields," according to Montclair State's president, Susan Cole, in a news release.
Atlantic Health already is active in that arena, promoting the arts through such programs as its second annual "Healing Voices" employee literary contest next year.
In a telephone interview, Maria Lupo, healing arts coordinator for Atlantic Health, says the partnership is designed to move beyond traditional uses of such things as art and music therapy by combining the arts and health care in different ways. "We really want to bring it full force into other areas," she says.
Lupo says that research supporting the use of the arts in health care also is a goal of the partnership. The effort will also include enhanced academic programs that seek to combine the two for students studying both health care and art.
As a tremendously amateur musician and the father of an art major, I think that's a great idea. I've felt the benefits of listening to and performing music, and witnessed the positive effects that can come while creating and appreciating art.
It seems as if it's not a coincidence that health care workers are driven to perform in bands and orchestras, create videos and paint pictures — they find it enjoyable and relaxing, and maybe therapeutic.
One missing element in the health care-arts relationship has been adequate insurance coverage of those creating the art. A recent survey found that 43 percent of artists surveyed had no insurance coverage, with lack of affordability the primary reason given by 88 percent of that group.
But the continued implementation of the Affordable Care Act should improve health insurance coverage for artists. That, in turn, should make it even easier for further collaborative partnerships like Atlantic Health and Montclair State's. I'm looking forward to that happening.