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The Healing Art Cart: Status Update

As many of you know, I've been working for more than a year on a program that will allow long-term hospital patients to choose the art for their own hospital rooms.  It's a very long process to implement a new program for hospitals, and here is my progress so far.

The Healing Art Cart

The idea for this program came to me while reading a paper about Evidence-Based Art that was put out by the Center For Health Design.  The idea is fairly simple: fill a cart full of artwork that has already been vetted to meet the standards of Evidence-Based Art, bring it around to patient rooms, and let people choose what they want on their walls.

For such a simple concept, it is remarkable how much work has been involved to design each element of the program and jump through the hoops to get it approved at a local hospital.

The Saga

The last year and a half have been a big learning experience for me in what it takes to get a new program going in a hospital.  I've established a strong relationship with Legacy Emanuel Hospital, and even received approval to pilot the program in the Oregon Burn Center there.

The project suffered a major setback in October when we brought it before the Grants & Foundations Committee to request funding, and they denied the request.  I couldn't believe it.  Every hospital employee who had heard about the program had been so positive, and then in 10 minutes this group of community volunteers decided it wasn't worth paying for.  The 8-page proposal that I had prepared, outlining the benefits and research background for the program, went largely unread as they thumbed through just long enough to see the price tag.  It was devastating.

Some images walk the line when it comes to Evidence-Based Art. The vibrant colors of this flower are in counter-balance to the beginnings of decay. I would not display this image on its own in a healthcare setting, but it could be included in a series of images placed in the right setting.

I spent a week or two in the doldrums before rallying my determination that I would not be stopped by this rejection.  I still had approval to run the program, I just needed to find another way to fund it.

How To Fund A New Hospital Arts Program

As far as I could see, there were 3 possible ways to raise the needed funds:

  1. Apply for independent grants
  2. Seek out corporate sponsorship
  3. Conduct a crowdfunding campaign

Each of these has its drawbacks, and I have spent the last few months doing a bit of research about the pros and cons of each model.  I decided early on that Kickstarter was not the way to go for this project.  Although it could potentially raise enough money, I needed to pay attention to the sustainability of whatever funding model I chose.  If I managed to raise the roughly $20,000 needed for the pilot program, I would still find myself in a bind one year later when it was time to renew the program or expand to additional hospital units.  Crowdfunding would only work if there was some way to get recurring revenue from it, rather than one-off support.

It was around this time that I learned about Patreon.  Patreon is a new model of crowdfunding designed specifically to allow artists and other creatives to garner ongoing support from people who believe in the work they are doing.  Although I knew it would be a long stretch to fully fund the Healing Art Cart pilot program through Patreon, I saw this as one piece of the bigger puzzle, so I created an account and have begun to gather support little by little through this platform.

Watch my brief video and then add your support to my Patreon campaign.

In the mean time, I am also doing further looking into both the grant-writing and corporate sponsorship models for funding.  Neither will be quick or easy, but both offer some hope of bringing this program into reality.  If you have expertise or resources that you would like to share in support of this goal, please contact me to let me know!  I am overwhelmed with the amount of work to be done, and any help would be greatly appreciated.

Although I am not yet ready to make the official announcement, I am also pursuing a 4th avenue to raise funds for this program.  It's an exciting idea that came to me only a few weeks ago - stay tuned for more information once I have the details hammered out!