The Healing Art of the Arts

By Paulette Beete

"Whether we are talking about individuals or communities, physically or emotionally, we know the arts have an important role in healing across the spectrum." — Mary Anne Carter, Chairman, National Endowment for the Arts

Back in mid-2019, when we published the Healing Arts issue of the National Endowment for the Arts magazine (then known as NEA Arts), no one could have predicted that we were just months away from a global pandemic that would affect us all not just physically, but also emotionally. Whether coping with social isolation, amped-up levels of caregiving, generalized anxiety, and/or the physical effects of the coronavirus, it seems fair to say that none of us has remained unscathed by these difficult times.

Artists and arts organizations have been heavily impacted in significant ways by the current crisis. Yet, as Arts Endowment Director of Accessibility Beth Bienvenu wrote in a blog post earlier this week, many have found ways to pivot and lean into what they see as a responsibility to their communities to continue their work, despite a multitude of challenges.

For this #Throwback Thursday, we want to revisit some powerful stories of National Endowment for the Arts-supported projects at the intersection of arts and health, from the community of partners supporting Creative Forces: NEA  Military Healing Arts Network to the organizations large and small who are working on suicide prevention, disaster relief, the emotional costs of hospitalization, and a whole roster of pressing issues.

We offer this opportunity to take another look at Working on the Spirit and the Mind: The Healing Power of Arts with a profound sense of gratitude for this work, and in a spirit of hope, inspiration, and, of course, healing.