About Project HEAL Pilot Site

Project HEAL Pilot Lead: Hannah Drake - National Artist & IDEAS xLab Community Health Equity Strategist  

Pilot Site Location - Louisville, KY

Project HEAL is currently taking place in the Louisville, KY community of Smoketown - the oldest African-American neighborhood in the city and directly adjacent to the highest concentration of health, hospital and physician services in the state of Kentucky.  Despite Smoketown's proximity to clinical services, average life expectancy (69yo) of Smoketown residents is 9 years less than Louisville's average on the whole. During the past 3 years the neighborhood has experienced rapid change when Sheppard Square, the 4 square block public housing complex, was demolished. Over 200 families were relocated to other neighborhoods while new low-income housing is being completed using a federal Hope VI grant. 

Pilot Social Network Artists for Project HEAL include: 

  • Greg Acker - conducting five pop up drumming stations within various areas of Smoketown to gather stories, facilitate deeper communication within the community, and will use drumming as a tool to introduce personal healing into community health.  

  • Cynthia Brown – using dance and movement as a therapeutic art form in the Smoketown community. 

  • Shelton McElroy - developing and implementing a community assessment tool that is aimed at gathering information about community needs, identifying target populations and areas within the community that may be at increased risks and assessing the larger community environment and how it can play a role in addressing the needs of individuals in the community.  

  • Caitlin Kannepell & Rachael Mauser (Steam Exchange) - using art expression with the youth in the Smoketown Community to foster youth led community leadership. 

Pilot Agents of Health Artists for Project HEAL include: 

  • Bobbi Buchanan  - explores neighborhood narratives identifying grief caused by trauma and strategies for coping. 
  • Andrew Cozzens - investigates the measurement and impact trauma-induced "time poverty" of the Smoketown community and their families.
  • Emily Stewart - probes the role of stress in police relations within the community  

The artist residency program is made possible through the support of the Creative Agents of Change Foundation (CAC).  CAC believes that artists can become a unique force of social entrepreneurs and innovators who creatively use arts+culture tools to promote wellness, to increase positive self-image and to increase understanding of how the health sector can impact health outcomes in communities. 

Other,  Louisville-based partners of Project HEAL include:

In addition to Creative Agents of Change Foundation, supporters of Project H.E.A.L. include Health Impact Project (Pew Charitable Trust, RWJF) and Fund for the Arts.