Friday, 11 November 2011

Arts Health Network Canada (AHNC)

Arts Health Network Canada (AHNC) is expected to be built on a base of strong provincial networks. British Columbia is the founding province for AHNC and Arts Health Network Canada-BC (AHNC-BC) is now incorporated as a non-profit society, forming the first provincial chapter. AHNC-BC has begun to explore strategic initiatives in BC and, on behalf of AHNC, is engaging with groups across the country.

To visit the website to see all of this info, click here: I've also added a link to the site under the Canadian Cultural Resources section of the Culture Blog

Mandate: arts for the health of it, as well as the joy of it!

AHNC has a broad mandate to increase understanding of the health benefits of arts-based activities and to help make them available across the country.

Specifically, AHNC's purposes are to:
Bring arts and health activities into the mainstream of Canadian life so that all Canadians are able to engage in arts for the health of it, as well as the joy of it.

The first business plan for the networks (released April 2010) contains a three level vision for the networks supporting Canadians to engage in arts for the health of it, as well as the joy of it. The long-term vision for the networks is to help move arts and health into the mainstream of Canadian life, so that individuals, organizations, communities and governments understand and support the connections between arts-based activities and individual and community health, and all the multitude of ways that the arts and creative arts therapies can contribute to lowering costs, increasing effectiveness, and supporting the sustainability of our public health care system. Read the full vision (PDF).

The networks will raise awareness of the health benefits of arts so that Canadians understand that engaging in the arts is a key factor in personal health, just as staying physically fit is important. The vision is for all Canadians to have the opportunity to pARTicipate.

Engage with organizations, institutions, governments, practitioners and the general public in order to:
1) raise awareness of the benefits that arts-based activities can bring to the health and quality of life of individuals and communities, and to the efficacy and sustainability of the public health care system in Canada;

2) connect and provide supportive services to arts and health practitioners; and

3) facilitate the development and availability of arts and health information, research, programs and other opportunities across Canada.

4)Establish and coordinate the activity of a network of local branch and affiliate organizations throughout Canada that have objectives and goals substantially similar to those of AHNC.

AHNC and its provincial chapters are intended to be catalysts to bring practitioners together; to educate interested publics and decision-makers about the health and quality-of-life benefits of arts programs and activities; and to create demonstration projects, including appropriate research and evaluation of arts and health initiatives. For more details see "Need for a Catalyst Network" in the Arts and Health 101 section of this web site.

Development of the Networks: an evolving process led by network members
Experience in Canada and in other countries indicates that effective national organizations are usually based on strong grass roots. So Arts Health Network Canada is expected to be built on a base of strong provincial networks. British Columbia is the founding province for AHNC and it is its first provincial chapter, AHNC-BC.

Recognizing its roots and founding in British Columbia, a single board, made up of residents of BC, is serving temporarily as the board for both AHNC and AHNC-BC. Early efforts of the networks will include supporting the creation of other provincial and / or metro networks in the country. As they become established, the board of AHNC is expected to become a separate board and to include representatives of the various provincial networks as they are created. Read the initial conception of the evolution of the networks (PDF). Precisely how this evolves ultimately will be up to those who join AHNC and those who create provincial chapters of the national network.

This web site is the web site for AHNC and is intended to serve anyone interested in or involved in arts and health wherever they are in the country. Members of the Advisory Council (see The Advisory Council) come from across the country; and as the various working groups on specific initiatives are created, they are also expected to involve people from coast to coast to coast. Read more details on key functions to be supported by AHNC-BC and examples of activities in the first three years of operation (PDF)

Origins of the Network: a grassroots call for a Canadian network
The initiative to create a national arts and health network began during the first Canadian Forum on Arts and Health, held in Vancouver in March of 2005. Participants in the Forum overwhelmingly called for a national network to be created as a way to stay in touch; to have a point of contact to meet others in the country involved in arts and health work; and to be able to learn about and learn from others' initiatives and research. Forum participants also wanted a web site that could be used to raise awareness and inform people about the benefits of arts-based activities to individual and community health and to health care.

A report on discussions at the 2005 Forum, and reports on several national and regional follow-up inquiries after the Forum, can be found in the Resources section of this web site.

2005 was a banner year for the development of arts and health in Canada, as several major events arose independently of one another in different parts of the country. The Forum was held in March. In May, the newly formed Society for the Arts in Dementia Care held its first conference, also in Vancouver, BC. In June, Edmonton, Alberta hosted the first conference of the American-based Society for Arts in Healthcare to be held outside of the United States. Then in the fall, the National Arts Centre held a Roundtable on Music and Medicine in Ottawa, Ontario, the first of three roundtables on aspects of the connections between arts and health. Since 2005, there has been a flowering of the already considerable level of arts and health activity across the country and informal networking began in a number of subject areas.

In 2008, the creation of a business plan for arts and health networks in British Columbia and Canada was undertaken. Following the completion of the Business Plan (April 2010), 2010 Legacies Now provided start-up funding to begin establishing the networks. In November of 2010, the board of 2010 Legacies Now offered three-year core funding to help the British Columbia network get solidly underway, as it assists in building AHNC.

What is needed in Canada to enable this country to catch up with other western countries that are 25 to 40 years ahead in recognizing and supporting arts-based activities in health care and health promotion is summarized in the Arts Health Network Canada-BC Business Plan. See "The Need in Canada" in the Arts and Health 101 section of this web site.

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