NASAA Notes: February 2022

February 2, 2022

New Hampshire: Arts in Health

New Hampshire Veterans Home residents create artwork together to facilitate health and healing during the pandemic. Photo courtesy New Hampshire Veterans Home Recreational Therapy Staff

The New Hampshire State Council on the Arts (NHSCA) strives to support individuals and families whose lives are impacted by chronic disease, disability, behavioral health challenges, substance misuse, aging, dementia and incarceration. The Arts in Health Program by NHSCA creates opportunities for the arts to facilitate healing, promote awareness of public health and build healthy communities. The program has a range of offerings that include the Arts in Health Project Grant, a curated artist roster and professional development services.

The Arts in Health Project Grant, launched in 2005, supports arts activities that occur in health care based facilities, social service agencies, rehabilitation and recovery centers, and correctional facilities. The grants are focused on meeting the needs of underserved populations including older adults, people with disabilities, people in recovery, and people with behavioral health or other acute or chronic health diagnoses. The Arts in Health Project Grant offers two tracks. The Health and Healing track supports arts projects that promote and facilitate individual health and healing through participatory arts engagement and artist residencies. The Public Health track supports arts activities that address public health priorities for New Hampshire communities. The most recent grant was awarded in 2021 to a New Hampshire veterans home that lost 37 residents in the span of a month to COVID-19. The grant assisted the facility in engaging therapeutic artist Kathy Cadow Parsonnet, who created Fraglets—hand-painted magnetic shapes that can be arranged on a magnetic canvas to create unique and changeable artwork. These sessions helped rebuild a sense of community in the aftermath of the catastrophic loss.

NHSCA maintains an Arts in Health roster of local artists who are qualified to work in health care settings. The Arts in Health Resource List contains resources and best practices from the field, and a free statewide Arts in Health Network listserv connects professionals working at the intersection of arts and health. NHSCA hosts professional development opportunities to support health care professionals, arts practitioners and anyone interested in learning more about the field. The 2021 conference focused on themes of healing and resilience resulting from the impact of the pandemic. Attendees included public school educators and staff, health care professionals, artists and arts administrators.

To amplify its work in health care, NHSCA partnerships with various state agencies and statewide initiatives. Collaborators include the Endowment for Health, the New Hampshire Alliance for Healthy Aging and others. For more information, contact NHSCA Arts in Health Program Coordinator Lisa Burk-McCoy.