Creating a Cultural Return on Investment Through Innovation, Research, and Education.

The Center for Art + Health Innovation (CAHI) is operationalizing ideas and strategies at the intersection of the art + health. CAHI is a strategic partnership between the Commonwealth Institute of Kentucky (CIK), housed within the University of Louisville School of Public Health and Information Sciences, and artist-innovation group and creative placemaking pioneer, IDEAS xLab in Louisville, Kentucky.

CAHI employs a transdisciplinary perspective throughout its development, implementation, and evaluation of its work; disciplines include public health, health administration, visual arts, music, spoken word, literature, occupational science, art therapy, small business, social service, youth development, and more. CAHI thus capitalizes on the strengths and science of each discipline and of multiple community sectors in its focus on innovation in both practice and research.

Founded on the belief that health and well-being are culturally created, not professionally provided, CAHI seeks to become a national center of excellence in both practice and research at the intersection of art + health, and to evaluate the impact of the arts on health beyond the individual level—arguing that artists and cultural production can impact population health outcomes and drive policy change.

CAHI therefore aims to foster a culture of health by engaging artists and cultural workers as social entrepreneurs in the health sector to support equitable community health development. CAHI is additionally devoted to the creation of replicable strategies that will achieve measurable results in the cultivation of equitable places and healthy communities. CAHI builds on art’s efficacy by training and supporting artists, researching health impacts, and developing evidence-based practices.

CAHI’s beginning model is Project HEAL: a place-based framework for organizing communities’ arts and culture assets to influence Health In All Policies and to increase social cohesion in communities. Currently piloting in Smoketown (Louisville, KY), Project HEAL will launch in New Orleans, LA and Asheville, NC in 2017 followed by other Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) Culture of Health Prize sites in 2018. Working with several geographically and culturally diverse communities allows an examination of how processes, collective action, and health outcomes differ among differing populations.

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While the notion that the arts can impact health seems intuitive, the arts sector has yet to be robustly connected with the health and economic sectors as a means of targeting community-level health. CAHI’s attention to all three sectors and their potential intersections has already inspired interest and participation from both Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and ArtPlace America, among others; it is truly at the vanguard of art + health innovation and research.

Contact Us

Commonwealth Institute of Kentucky: 
Tasha Golden –

Theo Edmonds –

Read the announcement press release here.