As an employee of the Kentucky Center for the Performing Arts  I have become familiar with some of the Center’s most best kept secrets. One of those is the Kentucky Center Arts in Healing program. Arts in Healing creates an interactive, artistic atmosphere in the healthcare environment. The National Endowment for the Arts defines Arts in Healing as “an international movement that works to infuse the full spectrum of the arts into healthcare settings, including design, visual, performing and literary arts, resulting in programs and healthcare environments that are welcoming and uplifting for caregivers, patients, their families, and visitors.”
Research has shown that the arts provide various benefits to patients in a healthcare setting. The arts have been linked to shorten hospital stays, reduce pain medication, increase staff satisfaction and retention, allow creative self-expression, help relieve pain and anxiety, help create a feeling of empowerment in situations where patients and family usually have little control, and ensure effective and efficient use of healthcare dollars.
Local artists with years of teaching experience go through more specialized training on teaching in a healthcare environment so that they are better able to design programs around the needs of patients, family, and staff. The Kentucky Center Arts in Healing program brings in instrumental music, vocal music, storytelling, dance, drama, and visual art to hospital waiting rooms, chemotherapy infusion units, rehab centers, hospital cafeterias, hospital lounge areas and more.
In March “The Kentucky Homefront”, hosted by John Gage an Arts in Healing artist, teamed up with the program to help spread the impact on health in the community. Other Arts in Healing artists including Gregory Acker, Cynthia Changaris, and Lorinda Jones also participated. The most heartwarming moment was when an individual in substance abuse recovery talked about how Arts in Healing changed his life. He talked about how he was another day sober that day because he knew he had to be speak at “The Kentucky Homefront” and felt he was worth something because he was trusted to speak in front of the audience. The people organizing the show had no idea what he was going to say, but they trusted him to show up and speak to everyone. The Kentucky Homefront is recorded on the second Saturday of every month except January and July.
The Kentucky Center Arts in Healing program has worked with Our Lady of Peace, Nazareth Home, The Robley Rex VA Medical Center, Frazier Rehabilitation Institute, Movement Disorder Clinic, Norton Audubon Hospital, Volunteers of America, The James Graham Brown Cancer Institute, and Home of the Innocents.
For more information visit the Arts in Healing page  on the Kentucky Center website.
Please note: Anna Blanton is an employee of the Kentucky Center.
Photos and video: courtesy of the Kentucky Center website