This report is written to fulfill a requirement of the Innovation Fund grant from Health Canada that helped to underwrite the costs of organizing and holding the Canadian Forum on Arts and Health. The topics covered in this report are in response to specific questions from Health Canada.
The Canadian Forum on Arts and Health was an invitational event held on March 14 – 15, 2005 in Vancouver, B.C. at the University of British Columbia’s (UBC) Robson Square Conference Centre. The British Columbia Arts Council (BCAC) hosted the Forum, with support from UBC’s Centre for Continuing Studies and an Innovation Fund grant from Health Canada, BC/Yukon Region.
The Forum was intended to be an opportunity for Canadians active at the intersection of health and the arts to:
• share experiences and research in Canada;
• meet others from across the country who are involved in similar work;
• consider initiatives and research available from other countries;
• assess the implications for Canadian policy in health and the arts; and
• identify questions, issues, and opportunities that need to be addressed in these emerging fields.
This Forum is thought to be the first time that individuals from across Canada who are involved in any aspect of the intersection of arts and health and arts in health care have had an opportunity to come together.
The Forum originated with a question as to what evidence was available to document the relationships among the arts and individual and community health. The question, posed by Richard Brownsey, Executive Director of the BCAC, lead to a survey research paper summarizing the literature available in English on arts and health from the United Kingdom, the United States, Canada, Sweden, Japan, and Australia. The author of the paper, Nancy Cooley, suggested that her preliminary research indicated there is extensive and growing evidence that the arts positively contribute to both individual and community health, as well as to medical treatment, and the well being of professional health care workers.
A presentation on the paper, Arts and Culture in Medicine and Health: A Survey Research Paper, was made to a meeting of the federal / provincial / territorial ministers of heritage and culture who expressed a desire to see it followed up. This led to a conversation with Health Canada officials, and a subsequent application to the BC / Yukon region of Health Canada for an Innovation Fund grant to support the costs of an invitational national forum. The UBC Centre for Continuing Studies joined the effort to provide meeting facilities and registration support.
The Forum was then pulled together by Cooley & Associates, working with a steering committee of individuals from the BCAC and Health Canada. The Steering Committee met weekly via teleconference.