Monograph: The Arts in Times of Trauma
This essay suggests a healing and strengthening role for the arts in this altered world. The beneficial function of the arts in health care has been documented over the past 20 years, with significant evidence that the arts have a powerful healing capacity when incorporated into hospitals, treatment facilities, senior care programs, and rehabilitation programs. Now we have an opportunity to explore the potential for the arts in aiding a different kind of healing: recovery after trauma or crisisﾗan experience that has prolonged, even lasting effects. The trauma of September 11 was of unspeakable proportions and possibly has changed forever our sense of security and well-being. It has left us with an awareness of vulnerability. However, by taking the lessons learned from the terrorist attacks and their aftermath, we can see that the arts have the capacity and the tools to help people express their horror, their fears, their loss, their grief, and their anger. We have the means and the talent to uplift the spirit, to bring hope for the future, to provide dignity, to assuage pain. We have the ability to help people not only learn how to express their strengths, but also come to terms with their vulnerabilities and our own. The questions before us in the arts are the following: How do we define our role? What do we do next? How do we develop the arts as a source of strength, solace, and healing that people know they can turn to in times of trauma or crisis?
Americans for the Arts’ Monograph series featured in-depth issue papers on topics that were of the greatest interest to our members and arts professionals at the time. They often still serve as excellent resources for best practices and historic reference for today’s issues. Monographs were produced from 1993–2010. Monographs from 2001-2010 are available for downloadable in PDF format our online store at a nominal fee for nonmembers but free to members. All monographs from 1993-2000 are available for free download via the National Arts Administration and Policy Publications Database.