Happy Arts and Health Month

Must everything have a month of it’s own? Not to be left out of the theme-o-the-month bandwagon, the Society for Arts and Health has branded November worldwide “Arts and Health Month.” This will be the 2nd year November has held the honor. Despite my own reservations about the effectiveness of such campaigns, particularly when there is little new content and few events surrounding them, it’s a noble effort on behalf of the SAH to create a concentrated “buzz” around the field.  The hope is:

Arts + Health Month is an opportunity for organizations and individuals worldwide to promote the integration of the arts—including literary, performing, and visual arts and design—into a wide variety of healthcare and community settings for therapeutic, educational, and expressive purposes.

Ultimately, it will be up to member organizations to promote the month – it seems the ultimate goal of the SAH is to provide tools to encourage individual organizations to reach out to the press using the downloadable press releases and fact sheets from the website. For example:

Communities around the world will celebrate Arts + Health Month with educational seminars, art exhibits, talent showcases, and other awareness programs. In <<Your Community>>, <<Include information about the monthly (or current) events your organization has scheduled for Arts + Health Month. Include dates, times, and locations, or provide a link where all of this information can be located. (example:the Society for the Arts in Healthcare, in partnership with <<Name of Partners>>, is offering a unique platform to share and explore national and international model arts in health programs at the first annual Arts + Health Month Symposium: Approaching Health Creatively. Featuring <<Name and Credentials>>

Unfortunately there is no centralized calendar and overworked non profits without outreach or communications or event planning departments might find it all quite too much of a hassle. As a point of comparison, the American Institute of Architect’s New York chapter just finshed up a fantastic month of programming, under the clever heading of “Archtober: Art and Design Month New York.” It was chock full of events, tours, lectures, and featured an easy to use calendar and prominent links to each of the participating organizations. From the Archtober website:

Archtober presents special tours, lectures, films and exhibitions that focus on the importance of architecture and design in everyday life. The many participating organizations aim to raise awareness of the important role of design in our city and to build a lasting civic and international recognition of the richness of New York’s built environment. Special programming every day of the month and access to sites, and their architects, will bring new audiences to all of the participating organizations — all of whom are committed to New York and promoting design excellence.

Imagine if instead of fact-heavy press releases and isolated events the SAH organized even just one week of opportunities for people to volunteer to creatively engage patients, take tours of hospitals and art collections led jointly by clinicians and arts and health advocates, attend lectures with curators, or take in high-profile concerts in healthcare spaces. THEN people, at least New Yorkers, would be much more easily enticed to understand viscerally the importance of the arts in the healthcare experience and the SAH would be able to create a dynamic, more publicly known, brand with greater advocacy influence. It’s a fledgling awareness month though, with a very specific audience, and a good start with lots of potential to grow into something even more energizing in the near future.

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