Center for Arts in Medicine

Creating Healthy Communities: Arts + Public Health in America

COVID-19 Arts Response State Governmental Advisory Brief


This brief is intended for governor’s offices and state agencies including public health, education, mental health, community and economic development, aging, human, social and family services, and disability services. 

Immediate action is needed to stop the spread of COVID-19 and to address the pandemic's short and long-term economic, health, and social impacts. State arts and cultural resources are among the most powerful and readily available resources for addressing critical problems faced by states, including social isolation among senior citizens, communication with hard to reach populations, meeting the educational and developmental needs of children, and crafting plans for safe and equitable recovery and rebuilding.

This unprecedented situation requires new and creative responses at the state level. The arts are one of the most powerful means at our disposal for enabling communication, direct health benefits, and social and economic recovery.

This brief provides recommendations and resources for engaging artists and arts organizations to strengthen health communication, provide direct health benefits, and empower recovery and rebuilding efforts. 


This brief was created by the following contributors and reviewers, in partnership with ArtPlace America, the National Assembly of State Arts Agencies, and the National Alliance of Community Economic Development Associations

  • Jill Sonke, University of Florida Center for Arts in Medicine
  • Tasha Golden, UF Center for Arts in Medicine; Johns Hopkins International Arts & Mind Lab
  • Jamie Hand, ArtPlace America
  • Jenny Lee, UF Center for Arts in Medicine
  • Keely Mason, UF Center for Arts in Medicine
  • Frank Woodruff, National Alliance of Community Economic Development Associations
  • Kelly Barsdate, National Assembly of State Arts Agencies

Copyright © June 2020. University of Florida Center for Arts in Medicine. Permission is granted for the reproduction of this file, with attribution to the University of Florida Center for Arts in Medicine.

Graphic design by MESH Design and Development


  1. Sonke, J., & Pesata, V. (2015). The arts and health messaging: Exploring the evidence and lessons from the 2014 Ebola outbreak. BMJ. AND Sonke, J., Pesata, V., Nakazibwe, V., Ssenyonjo, J., Lloyd, R., Espino, D., ... & Kerrigan, M. (2018). The arts and health communication in Uganda: A light under the table. Health communication33(4), 401-408; AND Huss, E., Kaufman, R., Avgar, A., & Shuker, E. (2016). Arts as a vehicle for community building and post‐disaster development. Disasters40(2), 284-303.
  2. Fancourt D, Finn S. What is the evidence on the role of the arts in improving health and well-being? A scoping review. Copenhagen: WHO Regional Office for Europe; 2019 (Health Evidence Network (HEN) synthesis report 67) AND Dadswell, A., Wilson, C., Bungay, H., & Munn-Giddings, C. (2017). The role of participatory arts in addressing the loneliness and social isolation of older people: A conceptual review of the literature. Journal of Arts & Communities9(2), 109-128.
  3. Bucciarelli, A., (2020). Arts Facilitation During COVID-19. University of Florida Center for Arts in Medicine. 
  4. Sonke, J., Golden, T., Francois, S., Hand, J., Chandra, A., Clemmons, L., Fakunle, D., Jackson, M.R., Magsamen, S., Rubin, V., Sams, K., Springs, S. (2019). Creating Healthy Communities through Cross-Sector Collaboration [White paper]. University of Florida Center for Arts in Medicine / ArtPlace America.
  5. Americans for the Arts (2017). Arts & Economic Prosperity V; AND NASAA (2017).  State Economy State Profiles.

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