Case Studies

Arts in Health

In 2018, the Laurie M. Tisch Illumination Fund (LMTIF) launched a $10-million-dollar, multi-year initiative to support organizations working on health issues that impact New York communities and that emphasize the arts as a tool for healing. The new initiative focuses on three main issues: mental illness stigma, trauma, and aging related diseases.

The inaugural grantees spanned disciplines such as visual art, film, community murals, theater, dance and music.


Photo by Nan Melville.


Community Access & the Changing Minds Young Filmmaker Competition

Film as a medium to combat mental health stigma among youth

The Illumination Fund supported the expansion and enhancement of the Changing Minds Young Filmmakers Competition, a program of Community Access that enables young filmmakers ages 15-25 to submit short films about real mental health issues that young people experience. In 2019, youth from across the country submitted more than 950 films, and Community Access debuted its first Changing Minds Young Filmmaker Festival to show selected films.


NYC Mural Arts Project (NYC Department of Health and
Mental Hygiene with the Fund for Public Health)

Large-scale community mural-making to spark dialogue about mental health in communities and to challenge stereotypes and stigma.

The Illumination Fund supported the creation of a Facilitation Guide, which is used by all community partners and artists for NYCMAP activities in order to improve the quality and consistency of the activities and continuous improvement of the program and is used to conduct impact assessments.

Section of mural by Tova Snyder.


Fountain House Gallery

A pioneering visual arts gallery and shared studio workspace for artists with mental illness

Fountain House Gallery hosted artists in residence at its studio space in Long Island City, providing working space for artists with mental illness and creating opportunities to foster artistic talent, further mental health recovery, and prepare these artists to enter the highly competitive art market. Fountain House Gallery also provided training workshops and professional development.


The Art Therapy Project

Group artmaking as a therapeutic tool for people who have experienced severe trauma

The Art Therapy Project collaborated with more than two dozen nonprofit organizations throughout New York City to provide free, guided art therapy to adults and youth affected by trauma, including veterans, survivors of sexual assault, and at-risk youth.

Courtesy of The Art Therapy Project.


Gibney Community Action

Dance and movement workshops as a therapeutic and empowerment vehicle for survivors of domestic violence and sexual abuse

Gibney’s specially trained choreographers and dancers offer over 365 workshops yearly, serving approximately 3,700 individuals at local domestic violence shelters and partner sites. Gibney also initiated a new performance and advocacy program with a group of “Survivor Leaders” from Sanctuary for Families so that their experiences can educate and inspire broader communities.

Photo by Julieta Cervantes.


Arts & Minds

Museum-based workshops for people with Alzheimer’s and other dementias, along with their caregivers.

Arts & Minds provided more than 150 programs for people with Alzheimer’s and other dementias and their caregivers at 10 partner museums, and expanded Spanish-language programs communities in East Harlem, Washington Heights and Inwood, where rates of Alzheimer’s are disproportionately high.


The Creative Center at University Settlement

Arts participation to promote creative aging and as an outlet for patients and survivors of cancer and other serious diseases

The Creative Center at University Settlement advanced core programs, including Artists in Residence at hospitals in New York City, daily workshops in visual, performing, and literary arts for patients and survivors of cancer and other serious diseases, and a Training Institute for Artists and Administrators in Healthcare and Creative Aging.


Dance for PD (the Mark Morris Dance Group)

Dance and movement workshops for people with Parkinson’s Disease.

Dance for PD provided classes in all five boroughs, with an expansion of these programs to communities in need in Upper Manhattan, the Bronx, Staten Island, and Central Brooklyn, as part of an initiative to increase diversity, equity, inclusion, access to, and engagement in classes.

Photo by Eddie Marritz.


The Louis Armstrong Center for Music & Medicine
and the Friedman Brain Institute at Mount Sinai

Mount Sinai initiated a multisite research project to examine a specific approach to music therapy — “home-based supportive supervised singing” coupled with individualized music therapy — to assess its potential to improve cognition, behavior and functioning in people with mild cognitive impairment or Alzheimer’s.


New York City Health + Hospitals: Arts in Medicine

In 2019, the Illumination Fund launched a partnership with New York City Health + Hospitals (H+H), the public health care system, to expand arts-based programs serving health care staff, patients, and communities in sites across the City. In the first year, the Arts in Medicine programs brought together artists, hospital staff, patients and community members to create seven major murals at hospitals and long-term care facilities, engaging 1,370 people in community engagement days, focus groups, paint parties and unveilings; launched SoulCollage® programs engaging over 900 staff members at six facilities in addition to special sessions at the system’s Central Office and a Nursing Retreat. H+H also launched HHArt of Medicine, a visual art observation program for nurses, doctors and other staff as well as physicians in training.

Section of mural by Peach Tao.


Section of mural by Sophia Chizuco.
Featured image (carousel on Impact homepage) by Amber Star Merkens.