An increasing body of research is revealing the intersections between the arts sector and health and human services. The interplay between these disciplines is sparking new ideas, programs, products and services in healthcare institutions across the country and in Greater Cincinnati.  A number of local arts organizations are involved in dynamic programming that advances these connections in a wide variety of healthcare and community settings for therapeutic, educational, and expressive purposes. 

ArtsWave believes in the inherent ability of the arts to connect, inspire, and engage at both individual and community levels has direct implications for the role that arts can play in promoting clinical and general health outcomes. If an expressive life can help increase the health and happiness of our region’s residents, then ArtsWave wants to support and enhance these critical collaborations as part of its community investment strategy. 

With the help of Ethicon Endo-Surgery and Anthem, we created an Arts For Health investment initiative in 2012 - 2013 with small project grants to support distinctive programs around subjects related to disease prevention, good nutrition and the appreciation of a healthy lifestyle.

One example is the Madcap Puppets’ Healthy Habits Program, which combines puppet theater and arts integration techniques together in a lively performance about dental hygiene.  For summer 2013, Madcap teamed with area YMCA’s during their summer camps to present this program to hundreds of children.

In 2014, we continued providing financial grants and coordination of resources in this focus area, by collaborating with Interact for Health (formerly The Health Foundation of Greater Cincinnati) in a pilot project called “Join the Fun. This co-managed grants program enables dance and movement oriented physical programs for children and youth audiences, with results tracked and evaluated by ArtsWave and Interact for Health using common metrics. In addition to the physical health benefits, dance and movement instruction can also improve concentration, teamwork, self-discipline, cognitive awareness, and coordination.

Arts organizations receiving special funding through this project include, among others, the Bi-Okoto Cultural Institute, Cincinnati Ballet, Cincinnati Black Theatre Company, and Pones Inc. Each organization used funds to increase access to established programs.  For example, The Cincinnati Black Theatre Company was able to ramp up its “Kick Obesity!” performance program in many more public community settings.  The program focuses on nutrition, exercise and healthy habits. Pones Inc. collaborated with Great Parks of Hamilton County on outdoor events promoting active living, teaching a short choreographed dance routine to visitors in Sharon Woods Park.

ArtsWave’s Chief Impact Strategy Officer, Dr. Tara Townsend, is working with Interact for Health to develop the methodology and implement an evaluation program utilizing attendance figures, teacher surveys, and student and/or parent attitudinal responses to assess the degree to which an arts-based program helped participants "get moving.”

In 2015, ArtsWave plans to further expand our current Arts For Health initiative to support programs that have demonstrated success through past performance. We have identified between 40 and 45 such programs in existence across the region.  Collaborative partnerships with medical and social service agencies, businesses and/or art groups will be encouraged.  ArtsWave will announce opportunities for arts organizations to apply for these grants in December.