On June 14, RI Teaching Artists Center re-launched the Arts & Health Advisory Group, in partnership with the RI Department of Health and the RI State Council on the Arts. The purpose of this policy initiative is to promote understanding of the powerful role the arts can play in health and healing, and to expand the engagement of the arts in health. Twenty-four people from the healthcare and arts sectors gathered at the RI Department of Health. The group includes doctors, nurses, health sector administrators and program directors, artists who teach in healthcare programs and settings, RI State Council on the Arts’ Education program staff, the Project Director from the RI Teaching Artists Center, and the Chief Administrative Director of the RI Department of Health. The group examined Department of Health initiatives just starting or currently underway, and the role the arts may play in those initiatives.
First, Health Equity Zones, building healthy communities on the local level, is already including plans for the arts and teaching artists in two zones. Secondly, the initiative to certify community health workers (non-medical personnel who support community health) was explored as a possible role for teaching artists to play as the role of the community health worker is legitimized. Lastly, surveys will be sent to a variety of license groups in the health sector to gather baseline information about the use of the arts in healthcare settings. The DOH will include an arts question in selected surveys they are sending this summer, and a longer survey will be sent to other organizations using the DOH databases and survey design assistance. There was also beginning conversation about new initiatives that may be developed. Stay tuned as the work of this RITAC policy group continues.