Project HEAL is a cultural blueprint for creative, just, healthy places and a model that can be replicated across America.


A Convergence of Culture, Community and Science.

While we intuitively know that we “feel better” when participating in arts and culture events or projects, our scientific knowledge is largely limited to research on art and music therapy. In other words, we know about the impact on the individual. What about on an entire community or city?

IDEAS xLab's community health development model, Project HEAL (Health. Equity. Art. Learning.), introduces arts and culture as the key drivers for learning, action and evaluation by communities seeking to increase civic engagement toward greater participation in policy making and improved wellbeing. 

Project HEAL stands as a proclamation of connection and social justice, establishing the care and celebration of one another as the highest priority of arts in America. 

Features of Project HEAL: 

  • Developed by a team of artists, curators, community activists, social innovators, health professionals and scientists. 
  • Brings together people, research, tools and resources of three sectors: 
    • Arts/Culture 
    • Community/Development 
    • Health/Information Sciences 
  • Replicable, scalable, evidence-informed approach. 
  • Flexible 36-month, arts and culture-activated, population health program that is co-designed with communities. 
  • Engages businesses, government, organizations, entrepreneurs, and researchers dedicated to a holistic approach to health and wellbeing. 
  • Uses various types of humanities-based approaches, artistic expression, media, and other cultural strategies, to explore both symptoms and root causes of local challenges, and identify unique leverage points for community health improvement. 
  • Creates actionable policy change initiatives and sustainable community development strategies that are designed to impact community wellbeing at multiple levels.
  • Builds community capacity by cultivating more fully engaged neighborhoods, with creative civic leaders, who have the necessary skills and resources, to develop policies and programs, that positively impact wellbeing at community-wide level. 

EVIDENCE INFORMED APPROACH

A Health Impact Assessment (HIA) conducted by IDEAS xLab and Louisville Metro Department of Public Health & Wellness in collaboration the Health Impact Project -- a collaboration of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and The Pew Charitable Trusts, with support from the Kresge Foundation -- found Project HEAL may benefit communities through:

  • Improved social cohesion and civic engagement.  

  • Policy changes that positively impact health.  

  • Increased opportunities for building inclusive economies through social and cultural entrepreneurship. 

  • Increased opportunities for improving social emotional skills leading to improvements in educational achievement. 

  • Improved wellbeing of communities experiencing chronic and/or traumatic stress.

  • Improved physical environment.

Support Project HEAL with a Donation

Project HEAL'S PROTOTYPE Initiatives Include:

One Poem at a Time: spoken word artist Hannah Drake developed an initiative focused on limiting predatory advertising in low income census tracts with high levels of health disparities.  (Louisville, KY ).

One Poem at a Time: spoken word artist Hannah Drake developed an initiative focused on limiting predatory advertising in low income census tracts with high levels of health disparities.  (Louisville, KY ).

Project HEAL Natchez: Since fall 2016, IDEAS xLab’s artists and curator have worked alongside the Natchez Art Association, the National Coalition of 100 Black Women, Inc., Southwest Mississippi Chapter, Miss Lou Heritage Group & Tours, Historic Natchez Foundation, Natchez Heritage School of Cooking, Visit Natchez, and Natchez artists and entrepreneurs, along with Brazilian artist Cadu to create a series of visual and sculptural art pieces and performances that lift up the often untold stories of Africans Americans throughout Natchez’s 300-year history.Learn more here. Project HEAL Natchez is supported by a National Endowment for the Arts Our Town grant, with additional support from Humana Inc., the MS Humanities Council, and the We Shall Overcome Fund.

Project HEAL Natchez: Since fall 2016, IDEAS xLab’s artists and curator have worked alongside the Natchez Art Association, the National Coalition of 100 Black Women, Inc., Southwest Mississippi Chapter, Miss Lou Heritage Group & Tours, Historic Natchez Foundation, Natchez Heritage School of Cooking, Visit Natchez, and Natchez artists and entrepreneurs, along with Brazilian artist Cadu to create a series of visual and sculptural art pieces and performances that lift up the often untold stories of Africans Americans throughout Natchez’s 300-year history.Learn more here.

Project HEAL Natchez is supported by a National Endowment for the Arts Our Town grant, with additional support from Humana Inc., the MS Humanities Council, and the We Shall Overcome Fund.

Hero+Shero Journeys: in a math and science magnet school in Kentucky's oldest African American neighborhood, hip hop artist/teacher Christopher Rasheed is developing an in-class artist residency program to engage 6-8th grade students with data science and environmental justice to explore the potential for turning a middle school into a cultural hub for health policy innovation. (Louisville, KY).

Hero+Shero Journeys: in a math and science magnet school in Kentucky's oldest African American neighborhood, hip hop artist/teacher Christopher Rasheed is developing an in-class artist residency program to engage 6-8th grade students with data science and environmental justice to explore the potential for turning a middle school into a cultural hub for health policy innovation. (Louisville, KY).

Smoketown Life|Line Project: sculptor Andrew Cozzens generated dialogue with community members to understand the impact of collective trauma and to visualize the multi-dimensional impact of poverty in a new way. The project is being featured in the Public Health Department's 2017 Health Equity Report. (Louisville, KY).

Smoketown Life|Line Project: sculptor Andrew Cozzens generated dialogue with community members to understand the impact of collective trauma and to visualize the multi-dimensional impact of poverty in a new way. The project is being featured in the Public Health Department's 2017 Health Equity Report. (Louisville, KY).

Summer of Justice: Designed by a team of Project HEAL artists over 12 weeks in the summer of 2017, youth and young adults in Smoketown used artmaking to explore the concept of JUSTICE through the 5 Senses: look, sound, taste, feel and smell. Sample workshops included: African drumming, poetry, rap, urban farming, food justice, and visual intelligence. The summer culminated with an urban-rural challenge weekend at the University of Kentucky Robinson Research Forest in Appalachia with youth from Smoketown and Hazard (Perry County in Southeastern KY). Artists, poets and musicians facilitated the weekend for the youth to explore similarities/differences in lived experience between urban-rural Kentucky and to become more aware of the causes/effects of power, privilege and health-related economic insecurity. We used clogging, old time Appalachian music, campfire storytelling, art, journaling, poetry and even black iron skillet cornbread making to discover new ways for understanding how to #PutPeopleInPolicy #StoriesConnectUsToEachOther

Summer of Justice: Designed by a team of Project HEAL artists over 12 weeks in the summer of 2017, youth and young adults in Smoketown used artmaking to explore the concept of JUSTICE through the 5 Senses: look, sound, taste, feel and smell. Sample workshops included: African drumming, poetry, rap, urban farming, food justice, and visual intelligence. The summer culminated with an urban-rural challenge weekend at the University of Kentucky Robinson Research Forest in Appalachia with youth from Smoketown and Hazard (Perry County in Southeastern KY). Artists, poets and musicians facilitated the weekend for the youth to explore similarities/differences in lived experience between urban-rural Kentucky and to become more aware of the causes/effects of power, privilege and health-related economic insecurity. We used clogging, old time Appalachian music, campfire storytelling, art, journaling, poetry and even black iron skillet cornbread making to discover new ways for understanding how to #PutPeopleInPolicy #StoriesConnectUsToEachOther


Thanks to Bandy Caroll Hellige for partnering with us to design the Project HEAL exhibit and collateral for Aspen Ideas Festival: Spotlight Health!

Click here to read about Project HEAL's Smoketown Prototype in Louisville