Although the arts have been an integral part of healing since ancient times, we are still often asked the question: what purpose do the arts serve in a health care setting?
We all know that art is used to enhance the environment—and what environment is in more need of enhancement than the hospital setting? Generally grim, gray and gloomy, these institutions haven’t been known to promote a feeling of well-being upon entering. But here in Florida that is rapidly changing. With the innovations of the many arts in healthcare programs throughout our state, hospitals are becoming far more patient-friendly places. Today, we know that art and music making as well as dance and all kinds of play can induce healing effects on our body-mind-spirits through intricate links among our nervous, hormonal and immune systems. Doctors are beginning to see themselves as both scientists and artists in equal part, and to concede that we cannot root out every disease through molecular biology and gene mapping. This new paradigm is not necessarily a paradox. The art of creating works of beauty and the art of serving the sick emanate from a common source of creativity, awareness, and humanity. Throughout the Western world, healthcare facilities of every kind are being transformed by the healing power of art. No longer confined to the orchestra pit and the gallery wall, the recording studio and the cinema screen, no longer a source of income for a few, or something most of us reserve for our weekend entertainment, art of all kinds is infiltrating the hallowed halls of medical science — our nation’s hospitals. Today, it is hard to find one without at least some form of art on its walls. Doctors, nurses, health administrators, are openly acknowledging the healing power of art, and its profound contribution to the quality of our lives.