In the Loop
Press Release : Jan 10, 2019

Culture shapes policy

Creating Healthy Communities: Arts + Public Health in America convenes with public health policy leaders in Washington, D.C.

By Christian Alfonso

WASHINGTON, D.C./GAINESVILLE, FL.—Over the past several decades, evidence has mounted to demonstrate that the arts and culture have measurable impacts on individual and community health. The arts can make health communication more interpretable, persuasive, and actionable by increasing reach to a broad variety of audiences, raising awareness of issues, reducing stigma, facilitating dialogue, and increasing people’s self-efficacy and motivation to change behaviors. Today, innovation is taking root at the intersections of the arts, community development, creative placemaking and public health throughout the nation. 

Creating Healthy Communities: Arts + Public Health in America is a two-year national initiative led by the University of Florida Center for Arts in Medicine, in partnership with ArtPlace America. The initiative is designed to accelerate collaboration among arts, public health, and community development professionals and organizations seeking to build healthy communities in alignment with national public health goals.  

“While the arts are widely utilized within healthcare settings today, they are highly underutilized in public health today,” said Jill Sonke, director of the UF Center for Arts in Medicine. “The public health sector is looking closely at ‘unusual partnerships’ that can drive innovative solutions to public health issues. We see the arts as a prime partner and are looking forward to exploring the potential for policy changes that can enable arts and public health partnership in the US.”

Through the development of a national network, a series of dynamic working group convenings, and a robust research agenda, the initiative is connecting people and programs to build a community of thought leaders and stakeholders from the arts and culture, public health, community development, creative placemaking, healthcare, and other key sectors.

The upcoming fourth working group, hosted by Georgetown Lombardi Arts & Humanities Program and the Johns Hopkins University International Arts + Minds Lab will be held at the Brookings Institution and Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., January 17 – 18, 2019. The working group will engage 50 thought leaders in discussion of the arts and public health policy.

Invited participants will gather from organizations such as the National Institutes of Health, the National Association of City and County Health Officials, Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, the National Association of State Art Agencies, Grantmakers in the Arts, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Johns Hopkins University, the Rand Corporation, and more, who will have the opportunity to hear from leading figures in arts and public health, and work together to form a plan of action to best impact public health policy in America.

Dr. Daisy Fancourt, Wellcome Research Fellow, Research Department of Behavioural Science and Health, Institute of Epidemiology & Health Care at the University College London, will be a featured presenter. Fancourt’s research focuses on the continuum of individual to population level studies of art and cultural engagement’s impact on health, and her recent publications show clear connections to arts participation and health through large cohort studies in the UK.

“We know about 'get your 30 minutes of exercise' and 'get your five-a-day fruit and veg', but at the moment there is no equivalent for arts and culture,” Fancourt said to a Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) committee inquiry. “We have a need for some really strong public health messaging campaigns that will raise public awareness about arts and health.”

For more information, visit or email Bridget Madden, Events & Communications Coordinator, at Follow the Creating Healthy Communities initiative on Twitter @CHC_ArtsPH, and “Like” and “Follow” the Facebook page at

Media Contacts:
Brandon McKinley
Public Relations and Partnerships Specialist
University of Florida College of the Arts
Office: 352.273.1489

Aly Maier
Program and Research Associate
Creating Healthy Communities
University of Florida Center for Arts in Medicine
Cell: 941.276.0336