The Future is Unwritten – Healing Arts Symposium


Symposium presented in partnership with the World Health Organization and The Metropolitan Museum of Art is a “cultural call to action” to invest in the arts to improve physical, mental, and social health

On November 14, 2021, leading policy advocates, artists, and researchers from cultural organizations, healthcare centers, government, and the United Nations will convene at The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York in a call to action to acknowledge and act on the evidence base for the health benefits of the arts.

The day-long Healing Arts Symposium, presented in partnership with the World Health Organization, and produced by CULTURUNNERS in partnership with the Creative Arts Therapies Consortium at NYU Steinhardt, the NeuroArts Blueprint, an initiative of the International Arts + Mind Lab at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, and the Health, Medicine, and Society Program at The Aspen Institute, and the Open Mind Project positions the arts as necessary to physical, mental, and social health across the lifespan. The event will be live streamed.

Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General, commented about the symposium, “We are particularly pleased that Museums like The Met are rethinking their missions to see themselves not simply as repositories of valuable objects, but as centres of creative engagement with their communities in the pursuit of promoting the wellbeing, and health, of the public.”

The event will be centered around three themed panels exploring the intersection of research, cultural practice, and global policy in the arts and health. Opening remarks by Max Hollein, Marina Kellen French Director of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General, and Audrey Azoulay, UNESCO Direct-General, will frame the panels which are being hosted by Heidi Holder, The Met’s newly appointed Frederick P. and Sandra P. Rose Chair of Education; Nisha Sajnani, Founding Director of Arts & Health @ NYU; and Susan Magsamen, Executive Director of the International Arts + Mind Lab. Participating artists include soprano and arts and health advocate Renée Fleming; American singer, actress, and founding member of Black Theatre United, Vanessa Williams; and Syrian-American artist and architect Mohamad Hafez. Also participating are Aduke Gomez, Chairperson for Art4Health in the Ministry for Health in Lagos, Nigeria; Patrick J. Kennedy, former congressman and mental health advocate; Sunil Iyengar, Director of the Office of Research & Analysis at the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA); and Emmeline Edwards, Director of the Division of Extramural Research of the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH).

Christopher Bailey, Arts & Health Lead, World Health Organization, comments, “With a growing body of evidence that embedding the arts into systems and places of healing can improve health outcomes, lower costs and support recovery from illness and injury, now is the time for a ‘healing arts revolution’ that improves the wellbeing of millions of people worldwide.”

The program will shine a special light on arts and health interventions on the ground, and highlight projects on the “frontline” of the pandemic where the crisis has exacerbated pre-existing threats to the environment, equity and access, economy, public health, political stability, and human rights.

The Healing Arts Symposium marks the culmination of Healing Arts New York, the last of a series of 2021 city activations, produced by CULTURUNNERS, to convene global arts and health researchers, practitioners, and policymakers. As the world emerges from the greatest health crisis in a generation, Healing Arts aims to affirm what artists have always known and research is now proving—that the arts can heal.

This program is made possible, in part, by donors to The Met’s Education Department in honor of the Museum’s 150th anniversary.

These events will be produced in accordance with institutional and City COVID-19 protocols to ensure the health and safety of presenters.

For the full Healing Arts New York program, visit our website. 



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