Arts in Health Collaborative

Arts in Health Collaborative & Local Military Partnership – Information Session of Agencies’ Health & Wellness Resources (60 minutes)
November 2022 – Six community health agencies share overviews of their programs and services, including arts-based components, and highlight aspects that may be of interest and available to the military-connected community.


Arts & Resiliency During Covid 19 – Summary video (3 1/2 minutes)
Highlights of Arts in Health Collaborative Agency’s work and member engagement during the pandemic.


Arts in Health Collaborative 2019 Summary video (6 1/2 minutes)
“Art of Healing” collaborative art project and traveling public exhibit showcasing the arts as a tool for healing.  Group field trips to arts and cultural institutions for increased accessibility to arts institutions, programs and events.

Arts in Health Collaborative 

Who? Multiple social service organizations with arts-based programs united under the leadership of the Cultural Coalition. The organizations are active members of the Cultural Coalition’s monthly Arts in Health roundtable that meet to discuss an arts-based approach to health and wellness, collaborative opportunities, peer-to-peer professional development, and resource sharing coordination.

What? In the past several years, the group has worked together on the following:

  • “Art of Healing” (DECD/Office of the Arts 2019 REGI Grant) – a collaborative art project culminating in a traveling public exhibit showcasing the arts as a tool for healing and increased awareness of agencies providing arts-based health and wellness programs. Professional artists work with the agencies to create one piece of art per organization.
  • Accessibility Field Trips – field trips to arts and cultural institutions for increased accessibility to arts institutions, programs and events. Coordination and collective purchasing for economies of scale. Spring 2019 Mystic Aquarium; Summer 2019 Lyman Allyn Art Museum; Fall 2019 Florence Griswold Museum’s Wee Fairie Village.
  • Collective purchasing of arts supplies and/or specialized equipment for cost savings.
  • Resource and equipment sharing for increased programming opportunities without adding costs.
  • Continued peer to peer support during the pandemic shutdown and re-opening.
  • Increased awareness and engagement with the military-connected community via a partnership with local military representatives (2022-2023)

Why? We know from our Arts in Health Collaborative participating organizations that the reasons these organizations utilize arts-based programs and activities, including painting, writing, music and performance are:

  • Arts help clients connect with people
  • Arts reduce isolation
  • Arts lead to less aggressive behavior
  • Arts build social skills and interaction
  • Being part of an on-going arts program keeps clients from going to hospital to seek support
  • Arts provide a safe, alternative support system
  • Arts provide “natural supports”
  • Arts provide purpose and identity, i.e. “I am an artist.”
  • Clients are less of a danger to themselves when actively involved in programs that they enjoy
  • Arts provide an outlet for self-expression
  • Arts are non-verbal and can be utilized by clients of all abilities
  • Arts are not defined, i.e. there is no wrong way to do it

Arts for health and wellness is a growing field. According to Americans for the Arts, “The use of arts practices in healthcare has been proven to not only benefit patients, but also help contain healthcare costs-a win-win for everyone.” With “social prescribing” (a medial approach that aims to highlight and illustrate the benefits of art-inspired, therapeutic treatment for a range of ailments and afflictions) on the rise, our collaborative establishes and connects a network of providers and arts institutions.

Together, these participating organizations serve 24,000 individuals, families and children in New London County and provide therapeutic and educational services. These seven organizations collectively serve 765 people directly with arts-based programs. Individuals and families served are predominantly low-income, and include indigent, disabled, veterans, homeless, and at-risk youth.

In January 2018, this group with several other agencies, worked together to host Arts & Health InterSECT – Creating Health and Wellness Through the Arts in Southeastern CT to increase awareness of their agencies and to highlight arts-based social service organization collaborations. The Collaborative continues to support and expand their awareness and education efforts and looks to engage in projects that offer cost savings and program enhancement. Arts in Health representatives realize that there are benefits to working together to improve the health and wellness of their organizations, their communities, and the region.



Artreach, Inc. (Norwich)
Artreach provides creative and performing arts opportunities to support sustainable mental health recovery, and educates the public to reduce mental health stigma. Programs in theater, music, visual arts, wellness and recreation enhance the quality of life for our members. Artreach creates positive social change in the community through performances that initiate thought-provoking conversations.

Child & Family Agency of Southeastern Connecticut, Inc.(New London/throughout Southeastern CT)
Child & Family Agency nurtures children and families to develop their strengths through its service, partnership, and advocacy. CFA works with diverse populations across many modalities offering home based and outpatient services for children and their families, school based mental health treatment, psychiatry services, as well as afterschool and childcare programming. Many of the programs utilize different modes of the arts and artistic expression in order to support clients in their progress.

Reliance Health, Inc. & Art Gallery (Norwich)
Reliance Health promotes an environment of personal expression and diversity of choice. Artistic activities provide opportunities to explore creative outlets and identify areas of strength and skill in adults with a mental health diagnosis and/or an intellectual disability. Programs utilize artistic activities (such as creating displays for First Friday Art Gallery or attending community based expressive arts programs) to compliment the strengths and desires of those being served.

Sound Community Services, Inc. (New London)
Sound Community Services is dedicated to educating, empowering, and creating opportunities for individuals with behavioral health and substance abuse diseases. The organization supports achievement of client centered, wellness focused services including: Clinical, Employment, Social Rehab, Residential, Community, Behavioral Health Homes, and Additional Partnering Programs. Sound Community Services utilizes art across programs to enhance wellness and recovery supports. The art of those they serve is exhibited year round at their New London location.

The Light House (New London) and The Light House Homestead & Stables (Stonington)
The Light House serves the needs of individuals with intellectual, physical, and developmental disabilities. Divided into three “campuses,” the broad range of programming includes two state-approved private schools, residential and transitional services, and state contracted adult services. Art therapy is part of the curriculum at The Learning Campus (behavioral and developmental services for ages 7 to 21) and The Life Campus (serving the needs of individuals with autism). The FRIENDS group uses improv techniques to help teens with autism develop social skills. The Community Campus day service program hosts artists as part of activities to prepare adults for work and/or community involvement.

UCFS Healthcare (throughout Southeastern CT)
As a community health center, UCFS’ mission has been to “improve the health and well-being of our community,” and is redefining total well-being to include removing barriers between clients and their care. UCFS is taking on the challenges of transportation, housing, nutrition, exercise, and overall access to services. This renewed mission is truly Well-Being Redefined. The goal of the art therapy cohort is to provide an expressive outlet for individuals to create mind-body connections, strengthen resilience and increase healing. As a result of participation in art therapy services, many individuals feel inspired to engage in creating expression outside of treatment as part of their weekly self-care routine and an outlet for both negative and positive experiences.

UCP of Eastern CT(throughout Eastern CT)
UCP of Eastern CT serves individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities throughout Eastern CT. Programming for adults and youth is focused on building skills to gain or maintain independence and making connections in the community. Art therapy is integrated into day and in home support programs. Artwork created in day programs has been exhibited at venues in New London county. Hosting musicians, actors, and dancers provides a chance to explore and learn about many types of art. In the residential program, art serves as a medium to facilitate communication and remove barriers to isolation among individuals.