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How this major art show in 18 locations across the US can help health




How this major art show in 18 locations across the US can help health

You may have heard people say that healthy living is an art. Good, the Arts For EveryBody campaign aims to show everyone how art can help lead to healthier people and communities. And on July 27, 2024, this campaign will put on quite a show. Or better said: a number of shows that are coordinated. That day, hundreds of artists, community leaders and healthcare professionals will come together in 18 different cities and towns across the US to showcase for the first time a variety of large-scale participatory arts projects and how they can improve mental and physical well-being. -are of everyone around them.

One of the aims of this major undertaking is to paint a different picture of the arts, one that differs from what may be a prevailing stereotype. Perhaps you view art as something more for fun and entertainment. You may have seen in high school and college how people were divided into the artsy crowd, the science crowd, the pre-meddy crowd, and whatever other cliques appeared in movies like Mean girls. These types of distinctions in high school have extended well into adulthood, with different fields, disciplines, and sectors remaining quite separate and isolated.

In reality, however, these separations are quite arbitrary. There is no real reason why art, health and science shouldn’t be much more integrated. A number of scientific studies have even shown how the arts can lead to better mental and physical health outcomes, as alluded to by the National Endowments for the Arts website. For example, practicing different types of creative arts can help boost your serotonin levels and increase blood flow to those pleasurable parts of your brain, which can help you feel better and prevent and fight disease more effectively. It can also help increase creativity, promote optimism and improve social interactions, all of which are linked to better health.

These possibilities were not lost on Lear deBessonet, a Tony-nominated theater director who, in her words, “during her more than twenty years of practical experience, became convinced of the mental and physical benefits of art and its benefits for the entire community.” including directing several theater shows on and off Broadway. This motivated her to found and serve as the organization’s co-artistic director One nation, one project who organized the Arts for EveryBody campaign.

“It felt like an urgent moment when we got the idea for the 2020 campaign,” deBessonet recalls. As you can remember, the year 2020 was a little different than other years. Then something called the Covid-19 pandemic started, and the US was – um, how should we describe it – kind of caught with its proverbial pants down. “There was a health crisis and many more crises,” she continued. “They showed that one sector alone was not able to cope with the complexity of society and that there was a need to join hands across sectors.”

Working across industries is easier said than done these days, as many people are deeply entrenched in their silos. “Working across sectarian lines means breaking new ground that doesn’t exist yet,” deBessonet explains. “We had to help build new relationships. This included learning each other’s language and listening a lot.”

Then there was the problem of finding money, which never gets in the way of anything, right? After all, the expressions ‘doing it for the money’ and ‘getting into the arts’ do not necessarily go together. “We were faced with the challenge of how to finance this work,” she said. “The work of community artists has been undervalued and deprived of funding. Many funding sources had separate arts and health departments, but ultimately we found foundations that were innovative.” On March 27, One Nation One Project and the Federal Reserve Bank of New York held a roundtable discussion on innovative ways to integrate and fund arts-based interventions into different types of health care programs. One Nation One Project has received support from Tides Center, Bloomberg Philanthropies, the Create Foundation, Doris Duke Foundation, The Kresge Foundation, the Mellon Foundation, The Tow Foundation and several other family foundations.

Clyde Valentin, executive director of the Bronx Museum of the Arts and co-founder and co-artistic director of the One Nation One Project, recalled how: “Lear called me in 2021 with this idea that had tremendous resonance. It was an opportunity to involve people in a time-based project with an endpoint. It’s easier to say yes to something that had an end point than to something that is open-ended.”

That end point will be July 27, when venues in Chicago, Gainesville, Honolulu, New York City, Providence, Seattle and 12 other U.S. cities will feature actors, muralists, poets, folk dancers, circus clowns, farmers, floral artists and skaters. , chefs, architects, DJs, puppeteers, nurses, mariachi players, bamboo weavers and many other artists and their work. All of this will take place under the banner of a very Oz theme for the event: “No Place Like Home.”

Garrett, the sixth artistic director of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival and the first woman of color to lead a $44 million theater and co-artistic director of the One Nation One Project, described how this has been a collaboration from “on the community-based arts organizations and community health organizations to help communities grow, create new collaborations and new ways to work together.

The idea of ​​people working together from different sectors, communities and other groups goes against much of the divisive and often racist, sexist and other ‘istic’ political rhetoric circulating today. Let’s see: Has there ever been a time when a political leader used rhetoric to divide people so that the leader could then take over? Hmm. What about the 1930s, when fascism took over much of Europe?

Well, in 1936, in response to what was happening in Europe, the Federal Theater Project organized stage productions of the play “It Can’t Happen Here” in 18 cities and towns across the US as a dire warning. This play was adapted from a dystopian political novel written by Sinclair Lewis. The plot of this play and this novel was that, yes, it, which means fascism and totalitarianism, can indeed happen here and anywhere. Does the number 18 sound familiar? That’s because this 1936 Federal Theater project of yesteryear helped inspire this year’s Arts For EveryBody campaign, which will take place in the same number of cities and towns.

Like the 1930s, the 1920s seem to be a pivotal period in history in many ways. The Covid-19 pandemic has exposed many of the deep problems that have long existed in the US and remained hidden for decades. To move forward toward a healthier future, America will have to paint a different picture, sing a different song, start a different act, and shape a better vision. And art can really help with this. The question is: will artists have the resources and opportunity to show what they can do?