In the Loop
Press Release : Jun 14, 2018

University of Florida and ArtPlace America launch national initiative for arts and public health

Two-year initiative to build intersections and establish resources for practitioners

Gainesville, Fla.—At the intersection of public health, arts and culture lies the potential for building stronger and healthier communities in America.

The University of Florida Center for Arts in Medicine in partnership with ArtPlace America is launching “Creating Healthy Communities: Arts + Public Health in America,” a two-year national initiative designed to accelerate innovation at the intersections of the arts, creative placemaking, community development, and public health.

Beginning in May 2018 and culminating in April 2020, the initiative aims to build healthy communities in alignment with national public health goals through strategic cross-sector collaboration, research, translation, and resource sharing.

“Artists have long worked as allies in furthering community health, and ArtPlace is thrilled that the University of Florida is committing such serious resources to lifting up and sharing this work,” said Rip Rapson, president and CEO of The Kresge Foundation and chair of the ArtPlace President’s Council.  “We look forward to strengthening the field of colleagues working at this intersection.”

While the arts are widely utilized as a means for health education and wellness promotion in communities, their applications are not fully realized, according to Jill Sonke, director of the UF Center for Arts in Medicine.

“While the arts are widely utilized within healthcare settings today, the theoretical and practical structures that can guide their use in public health are not well defined,” Sonke said. “We are really excited about building connections across the arts, creative placemaking and public health over the next two years, and about creating partnerships and resources that will help build healthier communities in America.

A team of University of Florida research scholars will lead the discovery processes using a field survey, focus groups, scoping and systematic reviews, and meta-analysis of evidence. The research strategy will explore and consolidate existing evidence and establish a national research agenda and standardized research protocols.

The research team will publish its findings and will lead the development of open-access resources, including a searchable research database and a repository of arts in public health resources expected to launch in March 2019.

Among the goals of the initiative is building a community of thought leaders and stakeholders through the development of a national consortium and five convening sessions. The first convening session takes place June 14 and 15. Hosted by the University of Cincinnati’s Office of Research in Ohio, the session includes 45 field leaders in the arts, community development, academia, government, the nonprofit sector, creative placemaking, and public health. A full schedule of future convenings and associated partners can be downloaded with the full release.

“The University of Florida’s Center for Arts in Medicine is the ideal partner to lead this effort,” said Laurie Baefsky, executive director of the Alliance for the Arts in Research Universities and one of the co-hosts of this first convening. “Their depth of field expertise and track record of training our very best creative arts in health practitioners positions them to capture, amplify and apply best practices nationally.

Funded by a multi-year grant from ArtPlace America, “Creating Healthy Communities” will culminate in April 2020 with the publication of “Evidence-based Framework for Using the Arts in Public Health,” intended to translate knowledge and research into practice and policy. The framework will provide public health practitioners with the resources needed to develop effective interdisciplinary partnerships, implement effective evidence-based practices and reliably measure outcomes.

“This initiative is an opportunity to leverage the pioneering work of the UF Center for Arts in Medicine with the nation’s leading scholars, researchers and practitioners in arts and public health,” said Lucinda Lavelli, dean of the UF College of the Arts. “‘Creating Healthy Communities’ is a significant step in establishing the standards for future research and implementation of arts in public health that will build a better tomorrow.”

Learn more at

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