What defines an artistic masterpiece? Some point to technique, others admiration. While the beauty of a piece will always remain in the eye of the beholder, a year of instability across all stages and galleries has underscored another vital aspect to consider: arts’ ability to connect, heal and replenish our spirits. Our local arts community is now fully viewed for how closely tied it is to our physical, emotional and mental health, far exceeding the “enrichment” factor that the arts and cultural sector is most often lauded for. Fortunately, much-needed healing — for us, our community, and our cultural institutions — is underway.
In addition to dispensing medicine and crucial statistics, robots at Sarasota Memorial Hospital are connecting patients with the world beyond. This innovative approach to bridging patient health with emotional connection taken by The John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art in partnership with Sarasota Memorial Hospital transports patients, many of whom have endured months of isolation and longing for connection, into the museum’s collections with their own personal, mechanical tour guide. Doctors and nurses also partake in social-emotional training led by the cultural institution’s education team in sessions focused on honing observation skills, building teamwork, and cultivating empathy to see each other — patient and health care professional — in a new light.
As this program vividly illustrates, an artful approach to healing is essential to our community’s recovery both during and beyond the coronavirus pandemic. The Community Foundation of Sarasota County cast this idea as the topic during a recent conversation with donors, community members and local arts and cultural nonprofits providing arts-focused wellness efforts across generations.
Photo Credit: Photo by Sorcha Augustine, provided by Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe.