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Healthcare In The Community

For many years national movements worldwide have aimed at incorporating the arts into healthcare environments as a healing tool for the sick. Children's hospitals in particular have long understood that integration of the arts with healthcare is essential, particularly for long-term patients and their carers. In the 1930s the WPA cultural programme sponsored mural projects in hospitals throughout the United States. In the 1950s New York City launched the United Hospital Fund, which placed thousands of paintings in hospitals. More recently in the 1980s, groups of US hospital arts administrators convened to start a support and service organization for the arts in healthcare. There are now a number of private and public charities throughout the United States who provide and commission paintings for healthcare. In the UK, the national charity Paintings in Hospitals was founded in 1959 when Sheridan Russell, a social worker, decided to improve his consulting rooms in a London hospital by borrowing pictures for his walls. He soon noticed the positive effects and by the following year had secured funding to establish a permanent collection for hospitals. The charity has since accumulated over 4,000 works of art, including a prized collection of mural paintings.

Hospital Mural, Georgia, USA. (Photo Cynthia Gentry, Art Heals)

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