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Arts, Culture and Healthcare

How do you define “Health?” The first paragraph of The Constitution of the World Health Organization states, “ Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.”
When Americans think of providing better “health” for citizens, we often think of medical insurance, subsidized prescriptions, food security, housing services, employment services, legal support, education, and childcare. But in some countries, arts and crafts, nature, and social activities are considered part of good health.
Some countries have even gone so far as to write prescriptions for individuals to seek out “ the Arts.” They have programs that aim to provide patients and clients with a whole-person approach to health and social care by formally incorporating the benefits of arts, culture, and nature into treatment plans and social services.
The arts in our country and our community are often considered a luxury, not a health benefit or a necessity, but consider the following benefits for your health:

  • The performing arts provide students of any age with a creative outlet for expressing emotions and experiences. Acting, dancing, or playing music can serve as a form of catharsis, allowing them to release pent-up emotions and stress.
  • Learning and participating in the performing arts requires focus, memory, and cognitive skills. This can contribute to developing and maintaining cognitive abilities, potentially reducing the risk of cognitive decline. No matter the age, participating in a performance can boost self-esteem and confidence, contributing to an overall sense of achievement.
  • Participating in group performances fosters a sense of community and social connection. This can combat feelings of isolation and loneliness, promoting mental well-being.
    The Performing arts often involve elements of mindfulness and relaxation. Practices such as music, dance, or drama can provide a meditative experience, reducing stress and promoting a sense of calm. The impact of theater performances on health is significant, encompassing various physical, mental, and social well-being aspects. As a performer or audience member, engaging with theatrical productions can positively affect an individual’s health.
    Watching a theatrical performance provides an opportunity for escapism, allowing individuals to detach from their daily stresses and concerns temporarily. This escape can contribute to stress reduction and relaxation.
    Attending theater performances fosters a sense of shared experience among audience members. This communal aspect enhances social connection, reduces feelings of isolation, and contributes to overall mental well-being.
    The arts have lost substantial support in our community over the past few years. During the pandemic, we lost the Flagler County Art League, which provided meaningful support for lovers of the visual arts and those who want to take art lessons. The Flagler Playhouse continues with shows, but they cannot hold acting lessons for adults and offer all of the programs they did in the past due to the loss of their building in a fire. The City of Palm Coast, with a large parks and recreation budget last year cut cultural funding grants substantially for the nonprofit arts organizations applying for grants, making it more difficult for smaller organizations to continue programming without higher costs for the participants. We have many volunteer art and cultural organizations that work to provide opportunities for citizens of all ages and races to participate in arts and culture that apply for these grants.
    In order for Arts and Culture to survive, we need businesses to establish partnerships with local arts and cultural organizations. We also need healthcare institutions to consider bringing the transformative power of the arts to a broader audience. We should empower community leaders to recognize the role of the arts in fostering resilience, mental health, and social cohesion within our community.
    Together, we can create a future where the healing power of the arts is used to make Palm Coast a better place to live.
    For more information on a groundbreaking study regarding “Arts on Prescription,” scan this code for U.S. communities.