Thursday, September 29, 2022 | 8:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.

Additional dates:

Completed Event: September 30, 2022

HOUSTON, TX | FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE — In a city that is a global center for innovative approaches to the arts, healthcare, and medical education, the Kathrine G. McGovern College of the Arts and the Tilman J. Fertitta Family College of Medicine at the University of Houston are continuing their partnership with the World Health Organization and the London-based non-profit CULTURUNNERS on their multi-year, international initiative entitled The Future is Unwritten: Healing Arts.

As a contribution to this program, the University of Houston hosted a half-day launch event in January 2022, with invited speakers including local and international experts on the arts and healthcare. UH will now host a three-day conference on campus from September 29 through October 1, entitled “Innovations in Arts and Health: Collaborating for Medical Humanities, Professional Development, and Community Health.”

The conference will feature research presentations, workshops, demonstrations, policy discussions, performances and art exhibitions. Presentations and workshops will include topics such as the combining of visual art and music therapy, use of the visual arts in clinical and community settings, and the importance of self-care for caregivers during the pandemic.

Featured speakers will include Christopher Bailey, Arts and Health Lead for the World Health Organization; Todd Frazier, Director of the Center for Performing Arts Medicine at Houston Methodist Hospital; Houston-based artist, Macarthur Fellow, and University of Houston Professor of Art Rick Lowe; interdisciplinary artist Lisa Harris; Kirsten Ostherr, Gladys Louise Fox Professor of English and Director of the Medical Humanities Program at Rice University; and Aisha Siddiqui, founder of Culture of Health – Advancing Together (“CHAT”), a non-profit that fosters the health and wellbeing of immigrant and refugee communities through education, arts, advocacy, and access to care.

The Houston conference is another in a series of local “activation” events organized for The Future is Unwritten: Healing Arts series. The series has been designed as part of the global response to the mental-health crisis that has been amplified by the COVID-19 pandemic, with additional events occurring in London, Paris, Venice, New York, Palm Beach, and Jaipur between November 2020 and October 2022. Houston’s The Houston conference will occur from September 29 through October 1 and will include policy discussions, artist demonstrations and other associated events in and throughout the city.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated pre-pandemic mental health issues and added to them significantly, creating an urgent need for attention and intervention. If left unaddressed, we are in danger of perpetuating the cycle that will lead to further health disparities,” said Dr. Stephen Spann, founding dean of the UH College of Medicine. “We need to use all tools and resources available to us – from health sciences to the arts and everything in between – for collective healing.”

The Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) believes the arts and humanities play a unique and vital role in equipping physicians for 21st-century challenges. By integrating arts and humanities throughout medical education, the AAMC says physicians can learn to be better observers and interpreters, and build empathy, communication and teamwork skills.

“We know from the evidence that the arts complete the health care equation,” said Andrew Davis, dean, McGovern College of the Arts. “Not only can the arts help to create critically thinking, sensitive physicians and patient-centered health care environments, but we know that the arts contribute to real, documented and verified health care outcomes as well. This conference is another facet of our work in art and health in the McGovern College, and we are thrilled to be partnering on this endeavor with the Tilman J. Fertitta Family College of Medicine as well as with our national and international partners, including the World Health Organization.”

The conference is open to the public as well as members of academic, institutional and medical education communities and to the expansive network of professional and community-based artists and arts organizations across Houston. Continuing medical education credit will be available for physicians.

“Houston is a dynamic hub of creative work where health meets the arts,” said Conference Chair Woods Nash, assistant professor of behavioral and social sciences, UH College of Medicine. “This conference is a priceless chance for health care professionals, artists, and the general public to gain a deeper appreciation for how the arts and health spheres interact and make each other better.”

For registration and for more information, including a complete conference schedule, visit the “Innovation in Arts and Health” website.

About the Kathrine G. McGovern College of the Arts

The University of Houston’s Kathrine G. McGovern College of the Arts is a premier institution for education, scholarship, and innovation in the arts at a major public research university. The College believes in the transformative power of the arts for the individual, community, broader society, and world; and in the arts as a vehicle to unlock the potential of faculty and students to positively impact the broader society through their skills, contributions, convictions, and education.

The College’s primary purpose is the advancement of the arts, through research, practice, and the cultivating of the next generation of creative professionals and audiences. The College commits to sustainable practices in the arts that actively address and advance the public well-being. The College educates its students to be resourceful, inventive, and engaged creative leaders and arts advocates whose critical thinking and problem-solving skills empower them to profoundly influence their community and culture.

About the Tilman J. Fertitta Family College of Medicine

The University of Houston’s Tilman J. Feritta College of Medicine is taking a bold and fresh new approach to medical education. At UH Tilman J. Feritta College of Medicine, our focus is on preventing and improving poor health – not simply treating it. Students will receive the highest quality medical training to provide comprehensive health care. By teaching students to address key factors that affect their patients’ health – such as food insecurity, the environment and housing – we can help eliminate health disparities in our urban and rural areas.

Tilman J. Fertitta College of Medicine is accountable to society for improving the overall health and health care of the population of Greater Houston, Texas and beyond.

About Culturunners

Culturunners produces cross-cultural campaigns, exhibitions and journeys – promoting peace-building & sustainable development through art. Launched at MIT in 2014, Culturunners’ first project was a multi-year artists’ road-trip broadcasting between the United states and the middle east. It has since grown to encompass large-scale cultural exchange and diplomacy projects, an artist-led media platform, artists’ spaces, and partnerships with institutions around the world.

About the Houston Methodist Hospital System

Houston Methodist comprises a leading academic medical center in the Texas Medical Center and six community hospitals serving the Greater Houston area. Each hospital is staffed by committed personnel who exemplify our I CARE values: integrity, compassion, accountability, respect and excellence. Patient safety, quality and service are our highest priorities.

Houston Methodist Hospital, the system’s flagship, is consistently listed among U.S. News & World Report’s best hospitals, and we extend that same level of quality care across the system. Other available centers include Houston Methodist Emergency Care Centers, the Houston Methodist Imaging Center, the Houston Methodist Breast Care Center and the Houston Methodist Outpatient Center.

About the World Health Organization

​​Founded in 1948, the WHO is the United Nations agency that connects nations, partners and people to promote health, keep the world safe and serve the vulnerable – so everyone, everywhere can attain the highest level of health.

WHO leads global efforts to expand universal health coverage. We direct and coordinate the world’s response to health emergencies. And we promote healthier lives – from pregnancy care through old age. Our Triple Billion targets outline an ambitious plan for the world to achieve good health for all using science-based policies and programs.

Conference Information

September 29, 2022 – October 1, 2022

General Public – $50* (non-students); Students – $25*
Parking – $18 (per day); $12 (pre-paid)
*Includes breakfast and lunch

Registration and pre-paid parking is available on the conference website: https://uh.edu/medicine/news-events/events/healing-arts-houston/registration.php