The Arts and Education Council announced today they will accept grant applications beginning June 1 for a new Arts and Healing Initiative, in partnership with Missouri Foundation for Health. The five-year grant will be used to launch the initiative which aims to improve the quality of life for people throughout St. Louis City and County in its first year, and other Missouri counties in subsequent years. The overarching goal of the Arts and Healing Initiative is to increase the capacity to heal through the arts.

The initiative will provide grants up to $10,000 to 501(c)(3) organizations who have a primary mission that is directly concerned with arts, arts education, healing and well-being. Program participants will drive a shared process to define arts-based healing over the course of the initiative. The Arts and Education Council defines healing as a transformative process of meaning, well-being or wholeness that reduces suffering or other factors that contribute to a low quality of life.

“We believe the arts have a critical role in improving an individual’s health and social well-being,” said Cynthia Prost, Arts and Education Council president and CEO. “This initiative was needed in our community even before the spread of COVID19, but now more than ever people will look for ways to heal, emotionally and physically. As our arts community continues to find innovative ways to lift our community during the pandemic, we know that they will find innovative ways to heal through the arts.”

”In thinking about the broad sense of health and how it encompasses much more than just the absence of disease an illness, it is our hope that the Arts and Healing Initiative will be transformative in how we treat those with physical and psychological challenges,” said Bob Hughes, president and CEO of Missouri Foundation for Health. “Research shows that art can be used in various ways to heal and alter behavior and thinking patterns that may be detrimental to one’s overall health and well-being. We are looking forward to the positive outcomes of this partnership.”

Studies have shown increasingly positive outcomes when the arts are included in the healing process. In addition to improving a patient’s emotional well-being, they have the potential to alleviate symptoms, lessen their need for medication and shorten recovery time. This initiative is a unique opportunity to define arts-based healing in the St. Louis region and beyond. Arts and Healing programs will vary widely addressing many problems and using different program activities requiring different approaches and activities. The COVID-19 pandemic has made everyone aware of how important it is to consider the environments in which we live, work and play and how these environments may change the method of delivering arts and healing programs to participants.

The Arts and Education Council has created an advisory panel comprised of leaders in the arts, healthcare and research fields to guide the development of this new initiative. The Arts and Healing Initiative Advisory Panel includes: Briana Belfiore, Sense Corp; Rebeccah Bennett, InPower Institute; Dr. Jeffrey Carter, Missouri Baptist Medical Center; Marty Casey, Show Me Arts Academy; Aaron Chamberlain, Washington University; Dr. Debbie Depew, St. Luke’s Medical Group; Vicki Friedman, Arts as Healing Foundation; Deidre Griffith, SSM Health; David Gutmann, Washington University Neurofibromatosis Center; Dr. Ken Haller, Saint Louis University; Dr. Terry Harris, Rockwood School District; Shawn Hayden, MO Southwest Initiative to Change Health; Lisa Higgins, MO Folk Arts; Kisha Lee, CareSTL; Dr. Melinda Novik, Missouri State University; Aaron Rodgers, health equity consultant; and Sheila Suderwalla, Artists First. Applications will be evaluated by the Arts and Healing Initiative Advisory Panel.

Applications will be accepted June 1 through July 31. Learn more about the initiative here