The University of Florida Center for Arts in Medicine and ArtPlace America launched Creating Healthy Communities: Arts + Public Health in America. The two-year national initiative is designed to accelerate collaboration among arts and culture, public health, and community development professionals, organizations and individuals seeking to build stronger and healthier communities in the U.S.
As part of this initiative, we hosted a series of convening sessions around the United States. Our seventh session was held in Lexington, Kentucky, on September 9 and 10. Participants of this group focused on social cohesion and health equity. While the group of participants included a diverse array of practitioners and stakeholders, an intentional effort was made to curate the working group to include scholars with commitment to promoting equitable health outcomes and social connection for health. The working group explored a conceptual framework and “Social Cohesion Theory of Change” proposed by Metris Arts Consulting and developed with support from several of the working group partner organizations.
The goal of this convening was to advance dialogue and strategy around several ideas through local site visits, performance, presentations, and structured dialogues. These ideas included:
- people are healthier when they are less isolated and more connected;
- people can improve the health of their communities when they find common ground for organizing;
- arts can be a powerful instrument for the expression of cultural identity; and
- arts are a source for the bonding and mutual support that leads to more cohesive, stronger and healthier communities.
We invite you to read more about the Lexington, Kentucky Working Group Proceedings.
This convening was is in partnership between PolicyLink, Metris Arts Consulting and the University of Florida Center for Arts in Medicine, and is supported by ArtPlace America, the University of Florida Center for Arts in Medicine, the Kresge Foundation, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and the Bush Foundation. The meeting was hosted by hosted by the University of Kentucky Center for Appalachian Research in Environmental Sciences & UK Center of Excellence in Rural Health. The Kresge Foundation and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation supported the research we used in the session, and the National Endowment for the Arts provided technical guidance.