Arts and Health: The Role of the Arts Sector in Promoting Resilience and Well-Being
About this Issue
The COVID pandemic took a great toll on the health of the nation. Beyond the physical—the huge loss of life, our quest to deal with the various new strains appearing suddenly, and the lingering Long COVID—there was the mental toll as well. As the Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy noted in a public health advisory released in May 2023, there is an epidemic of loneliness, isolation, and lack of connection in our country: “The mortality impact of being socially disconnected is similar to that caused by smoking up to 15 cigarettes a day, and even greater than that associated with obesity and physical inactivity.”
The arts are part of a healthy life, contributing to greater social cohesion, health equity, and community well-being. This could include individual practice to improve one’s mental health, orchestra members playing in health care facilities to soothe patients and their families in tense and anxious situations, arts education programs that support the social and emotional needs of students, the stories we share that allow us to come together and acknowledge our histories and bridge differences, and more.
Mindful of the toll that the pandemic has also taken on the arts and cultural sector, this issue will look at some of the ways that the arts continue to address and contribute to public health, healing, well-being, and community resilience. These are just a few of the stories demonstrating the importance of the arts sector and the incredible power of the arts to help individuals, organizations, and communities come out of a difficult time, think differently about how they live, take control of their own narratives, and advance efforts to be whole. Living an artful life is essential to living a healthy life.