Arts programs in hospitals
Managing and developing arts programs, collections and innovations in hospitals across the NSW Central West

The hospital programs have a dual focus of bringing art (visual art, music and performance) into hospital spaces to make them more accessible or comforting places for patients, visitors and staff; and on programs in the wider community to make art for the hospital spaces and in turn build connections between the community and the health services.

Bathurst Hospital

When the major hospital in Bathurst was rebuilt (completed 2008) it was more than new rooms and equipment that went into the planning. An innovative arts and health program was a part of the mix from day one, coordinated by Arts OutWest.

Launched 2008 the program at Bathurst Hospital integrates arts activities into the health services including palliative care, mental health, disability services, Aboriginal maternal and infant health as well as the general environment of the hospital.

The program was designed to improve health outcomes through the arts. There was extensive initial consultation with health staff and the community as well as advice from arts and health experts.

Projects have included the creation of large scale public art, regular exhibitions, art acquisition program, arts activities for health service clients, and music and performance.

The program has reached beyond the hospital walls with activities in schools, nursing homes, in the Bathurst Regional Art Gallery and in community centres.

“The art on the hospital walls is part of the bigger context of the whole arts and health program. Its great value is in giving people a positive experience of the health service and the space… it’s participatory,” – Dr Peter Wilson, artist, educator and original member of the Bathurst Arts and Health Steering Committee.

 

The hospital is set up with tracking to hang artworks. Alongside a collection of works purchased from top regional artists, exhibitions have included work by  people with a disability, young people, the Central West Acquired Brain Injury Action Group, CSU students, professional artists, multi-cultural groups, local Aboriginal artists, a health researcher.

“I think it made a wonderful connection, a link, between the hospital and the community,” original steering committee community representative Jenni Brackenreg said.

“That’s what our program is about. That’s the key. We’re not just an insular hospital, with a program with pictures on walls. We are actually reaching out to the community in a health promotion type context.”

 

“You know it’s working when you see kids come in with their parents to show them their work on the walls or people with a disability feeling more comfortable about the hospital space when they see their own work on display,” Arts OutWest executive officer Tracey Callinan said.

The deeply moving ‘Waving Not Drowning’ (2008-2009) project included art making and blog writing for people in palliative care, carers and volunteers. In Bathurst’s acute mental health unit, the Panorama Clinic, art and storytelling workshops (2008) helped staff connect with the health consumers with the bonus of art being created for the otherwise sterile space. There have been rap songs about the importance of hand washing and staff choirs at Christmas.  Music performances over the years have been particularly popular with health staff.

“Staff and visitors now ask ‘When is the next performance?’ and recall that people were dancing in the corridors,” arts and health coordinator Christine McMillan said. “People smiled for weeks later when recalling the performances”.

The participation of health staff has been key in the program. There has been training for both artists and health workers and staff have designed many of the arts programs as responses to needs in the health service.

Currently: Whilst the program currently receives no specific funding, Arts OutWest continues to curate and manage the visual art collection of the hospital.

Orange Hospital

Arts OutWest supported the development of the arts and health program at the new Orange Hospital and managed some of the funding for this program. The program included commissions of public artworks by regional, professional artists and community art making. Orange Regional Gallery curates the exhibtion program at the hospital including the long-term loan of artworks from the gallery’s collection.

Arts OutWest has also ran mental health focusssed and Aboriginal arts focussed art making projects in the Bloomfield part of the hospital (notably through the Spead the Word and Wellbeing projects).

Currently: Arts OutWest is working with the Wattlegrove voluntary drug and alchol unit at Bloomfield on workshops with clients to create artworks for the space (2021).

Parkes Hospital

Arts OutWest took on the development and management of the Lachlan Arts and Culture Program as part of the redevelopment of Parkes and Forbes hospitals.

Currently: Whilst there is no current specific funding Art OutWest continues to curate the hospital’s art collection as part of our core Arts and Health program.

Forbes Hospital

Arts OutWest took on the development and management of the Lachlan Arts and Culture Program as part of the redevelopment of Parkes and Forbes hospitals.

Currently: Whilst there is no current specific funding Art OutWest continues to curate the hospital’s art collection as part of our core Arts and Health program.

Condobolin MPS

We’ve ran community art exhibitions at the MPS and assisted the hospital to set up permanent exhibition systems.

Currently: Condobolin MPS is a participant in Virtual Art Snacks for aged care residents. Arts OutWest continues to coordinate exhibitions at the hopsital. In 2021 these will include ‘Birds and Wetlands’ (opening late April) and ‘Shine’ running July-September. These exhibitions can be seen by patients, staff and visitors to the hospital.

Trundle MPS

We’ve ran community art exhibitions at the MPS and assisted the hospital to set up permanent exhibition systems.

Currently: Trundle MPS is a participant in Virtual Art Snacks for aged care residents. Arts OutWest continues to curate exhibitions at the hospital. In 2021 this includes ‘Joy’, work of K-6 students from Trundle Central School and St Patricks Parish School Trundle. This exhibition runs from March.

Lake Cargellio MPS

Currently: We are working with the MPS staff on future arts and health programs at the MPS.

Oberon MPS

Oberon MPS was the site of the pilot arts and aged care MPS program and the development of the virually-delivered program in collaboration with Oberon Arts Council.

Currently: Oberon MPS is a participant in Virtual Art Snacks for aged care residents.

Grenfell MPS

Grenfell MPS joined Oberon as a pilot site of the virually-delivered programs for aged care residents.

Currently: Grenfell MPS is a participant in Virtual Art Snacks for aged care residents.

There are 24 MPS sites across the Western NSW Local Health District involved in various ways in the Virtual Art Snacks programs for aged care residents.

When people feel more connected to their hopsitals and health services they have better experiences and feel more open to accessing health support.

Location: Hospitals and MPS (Multi-Purpose Health Services) in Bathurst, Orange, Parkes, Forbes, Condobolin, Trundle, Lake Cargelligo

When: Since 2008

Funded by: Various

Images: (Main) Musicians in Hospitals Training in Parkes. Photo credit: Jay Lee Zagrovic. (gallery  1) Condo MPS kids art exhibition; (gallery 2) Trundle MPS exhibition; (gallery 3) Lachlan Culture and Arts program.

Partnering with: Western NSW Local Health District