Creativity + Wellness = Arts in Health
Join arts in health leaders from around the world in making a difference. Promoting health one creative moment at a time.
Develop arts programming that supports wellbeing
Stay close to home as you learn and practice arts in health through the Center's asynchronous online graduate program. Our diverse, experienced faculty will teach you to develop, facilitate, and research arts in health programming in local healthcare or community settings.
Message from our research director, Dr. Jill Sonke
What is Arts in Medicine—What is Arts in Health?
In 1996 the Center for Arts in Medicine was founded by a team of hospital-based artists and caregivers from the University of Florida. As arts in medicine expanded, the term arts in health emerged to describe a diverse field of creative programs supporting health.
- Arts in Health as a Field
The World Health Organization (WHO) defines health as "a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity." Arts in health is a multidisciplinary field that integrates the literary, performing, and visual arts, along with other forms of creative expression, into a variety of healthcare and community settings to enhance and support health (NOAH, 2017).
- Arts in Health as a Discipline
Numerous disciplines utilize the arts in support of human health. The first of these to professionalize, the creative arts therapies, were established between the 1930s and 1960s in the United States. Arts in health, or arts in medicine, began to emerge as a distinct discipline in the US in the 1970s and later establishing itself as a field of study in the 1990s. In the field of arts in health, artists, educators, and caregivers are trained to facilitate artistic experiences that promote health; not as mental health counselors or clinicians, but instead as compassionate arts in health professionals. A new discipline and subfield, arts in public health, has also recently emerged in the 2000s. Public health officials and community leaders are recognizing the tremendous impact the arts can have on community health and wellbeing. Recent public health studies demonstrate that the arts can help address much larger issues such as racism, isolation, and even COVD-19 (CDC 2021).
Around the globe, arts in health professionals provide patients, their family members, and caregivers with innovative opportunities for creative engagement and expression. The discipline serves as an adjunct to medical care, mental health, and public health. Science shows how creativity and culture can contribute to healing in a holistic sense, however, arts in health professionals do not make claims that art alone can heal an illness or replace medical or mental health treatment. Rather, arts in health professionals understand how to facilitate creative experiences with patient or participant safety in mind. Artists in health can collaborate with health and human services professionals in research, advocacy, education, and arts engagement. Artists in health can leverage the arts to address the social determinants of health and work in partnership with other professionals and systems to complement healthcare. Finally, artists in public health settings partner with members of the community alongside culture-bearers, community leaders, public health professionals, and social workers to deploy the arts in support of community-wide health and wellbeing.
- Arts in Health as a Profession
Over the last three decades, hospitals and clinical facilities around the world have been developing arts in health programs for their patients, family members, and staff. Arts in public health programs have expanded too, as governments, community leaders, and public health agencies partner with local artists to help create a culture of health and social change.
Over 50% of US hospitals have arts programming and that number is growing.
A survey conducted from 2016-2017 mapped and surveyed 107 arts in health programs in just the state of Florida alone; comprised of both healthcare and community organizations. In fact, in a 2009 survey, 56% of healthcare organizations sampled reported dedicating a portion of their operating budget to the support of arts programs to enhance patient care. In 2012, a study revealed that approximately 50% of hospitals across the United States provided arts in health programming. That number continues to grow as arts in health professionals partner with hospitals and communities to expand existing programs or create new ones of their own.
In Florida alone, over 107 Arts in Health programs are making a difference in people's lives and health.
Finally, arts in health has developed into both a meaningful and thriving profession. The following salary data is based on various surveys of the field of arts in health in the United States. Dollar amounts are in USD.
- A 2010 national survey investigating pay scales in the field found that, while some artists were paid as much as $120/hour, the median hourly pay rate at the time was $31-40/hour. Arts in health administrators were similarly compensated at an average hourly rate of $21-$30.
- A 2016 survey of arts in health programs in the state of Florida found an average pay rate of $35 per hour for artists.
- A 2020 national survey (n=45) estimates a median hourly pay rate of $30/hour for arts in health professionals across the United States. Looking at the interquartile range (middle 50% of responses) of respondents, the typical annual salary for full-time arts in health professionals is between $50,000 and $75,000.
Who can become an arts in health professional?
- Artists of any discipline including music, visual arts, dance, poetry, theater, creative writing, photography, multi-modal, etc.
- Health or Public Health professionals.
- Arts administrators or Health administrators.
- Researchers or arts educators interested in arts in health.
- Social entrepreneurs looking to uplift their community.
- You! Your creative spirit can transform health.
What do arts in health professionals do?
- Arts in health professionals safely facilitate holistic arts experiences in various settings using an ethical approach distinct from traditional arts education or arts therapy.
- Arts in health experiences may include workshops, classes, performances, or bedside visits that emphasize creativity and self-care rather than artistic mastery.
- These experiences, when led by skilled and trained artists, can promote relaxation, enhance wellbeing, reduce social isolation, raise awareness, and improve health outcomes.
- Arts in health careers include artist in residence, administrator, researcher, curator, educator, community organizer, policy-maker, consultant, social entrepreneur, and/or advocate, etc.
- Established professionals in adjacent fields like arts education or the helping and health professions may incorporate arts in health skills into their existing careers to broaden the impact of their practice.
Ready to start your journey?
Visit our ways to study page to learn more about our various graduate and combination degree offerings. Our team is also happy to discuss your goals and answer your questions to help you choose the perfect track in our online graduate program—contact us for more information!