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The Laurie M. Tisch Illumination Fund Awards $3 Million Donation to Expand NYC Health + Hospitals Arts in Medicine Program

The award will support arts programs serving healthcare staff, patients, and communities in patient care sites across the city

Funding will promote employee wellness and resilience, create 20 new community murals, present live music, host exhibitions from the health system’s art collection, and provide artists in residence at hospitals

Feb 22, 2023

As part of the Music for the Soul concert series, the Will Holshouser Trio performs at NYC Health + Hospitals/Kings County in front of the “Origins and Today” mural by artist Oscar Lett, which was developed as part of the Community Mural Project. Both programs are part of the Arts in Medicine initiative at NYC Health + Hospitals. (Credit: NYC Health + Hospitals)

Today, NYC Health + Hospitals announced the receipt of a $3 million grant from the Laurie M. Tisch Illumination Fund to expand the health system’s Arts in Medicine program. The grant is the second from the Illumination Fund for the Arts in Medicine program. The first grant — which was for $1.5 million in 2019 — launched the system’s Arts in Medicine program, creating arts programs citywide in all 11 hospitals and five long-term care facilities, as well as many NYC Health + Hospitals/Gotham Health community clinics. Arts programs at NYC Health + Hospitals are designed to support patient recovery and help address staff burnout and compassion fatigue. The new grant is the foundation’s largest gift to the health system since launching its Arts in Health initiatives prior to the pandemic. NYC Health + Hospitals has the largest public art collection in the city.

“NYC Health + Hospitals cares for their patients physically, mentally, and emotionally, ensuring every New Yorker who walks through their doors is supported holistically,” said New York City Mayor Eric Adams. “This grant from the Laurie M. Tisch Illumination Fund for NYC Health + Hospitals’ Arts in Medicine programs will support health care staff by encouraging creativity, wellness, and resilience, and will bring the power of the arts to patients and community members in every borough. Philanthropic gifts like this one are vitally important and enable us to raise the bar of care even higher. I’m grateful to Laurie and her foundation for making these programs possible.”

The expansion of the Arts in Medicine program includes 20 new community murals, building on the 26 murals created in the first wave of the initiative and featured in a new book, Healing Walls: New York City Health + Hospitals Community Mural Project 2019-2021. The funding will also expand access to NYC Health + Hospitals’ important art collection through exhibitions and enable partnerships with major museums to use artwork from the NYC Health + Hospitals collection for a visual observational training tool for doctors, nurses and non-clinical staff through the HHArt of Medicine program. A professional artist in residence will be placed in various facilities to bring activities and experiences that support staff wellness. Additionally, Arts in Medicine will use some of the donation to present live concerts for patients, visitors, and staff in hospitals as part of the Music for the Soul concert series. Furthermore, the grant money will support research into and evaluation of the impact of the Arts in Medicine program, acquisitions of new art by artists representative of the hospitals’ communities and gender diversity. Lastly, it will bolster current programming such as the Lullaby Project with Carnegie Hall and the Music and Memory program.

“Engaging in the arts fosters an engaging environment and experiences for patients and staff, and we want our care community to benefit from a substantive and accessible Arts in Medicine program,” said NYC Health + Hospitals President and CEO Mitchell Katz, MD. “We are enormously grateful to Laurie Tisch and the Illumination Fund for their generosity and for having the appreciation and foresight to encourage the arts as a tool for fostering wellness and making it a priority for our patients and staff.”

“Our partnership with NYC Health + Hospitals, which began before COVID, truly deepened during the pandemic as we saw how everyone in the system heroically stepped up to provide care to all who needed it, no matter their circumstances,” said Laurie Tisch, Founder and President of the Laurie M. Tisch Illumination Fund. “We saw first responders and all healthcare workers under unprecedented pressure, and we witnessed firsthand how the arts are used to help relieve stress, provide joy and care and pride in the system. It is our pleasure to increase our support of the Arts in Medicine program and we look forward to seeing the programs grow and provide more services to more people.”

“The funding from the Laurie M. Tisch Illumination Fund has a profound impact on the Arts in Medicine department at NYC Health + Hospitals,” said Larissa Trinder, Senior Director for Arts in Medicine at NYC Health + Hospitals. “We continue to expand and grow to provide programming that reduces stress and compassion fatigue while offering evidence-based opportunities for the health care providers, patients, and families that make up the NYC Health + Hospitals community.”

Healthcare worker burnout is a national health crisis, and the continuing COVID-19 pandemic has created mental health challenges across New York City, especially in low-income, immigrant and underserved communities, which are significant patient populations for NYC Health + Hospitals. Decades of research have shown that the arts can play a role in “healing the healers,” as well as improving patient outcomes and forging community health awareness and partnerships.

NYC Health + Hospitals has a collection of more than 4,000 artworks, including the historic murals commissioned through the Works Progress Administration in the 1930s, and paintings, mosaics, photographs, sculptures, installation art, and murals by both emerging and established professional artists. The collection includes works by some of America’s leading artists, such as Jacob Lawrence, Romare Bearden, Helen Frankenthaler, Mary Frank, Betty Blayton, Candida Alvarez, Andy Warhol, Alexander Calder, Keith Haring.

Arts in Medicine initiatives include:

  • HHArt of Medicine, in partnership with the Brooklyn Museum, is an art observation and discussion program for health care staff that promotes individual reflection, fosters empathy, and brings together clinical and non-clinical teams to learn from one another’s experiences, gain comfort, and increase open-mindedness when faced with ambiguity.
  • The Community Mural Project selects artists to design murals in collaboration with patients, staff, and neighborhood residents, followed by community events to paint the mural. The final project is installed permanently at a NYC Health + Hospitals facility, developing cultural ties between all of the collaborators.
  • Music for the Soul offers live concerts at NYC Health + Hospitals facilities for patients, staff, visitors, and the general public.
  • Music & Memory engages patients with Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia and cognitive loss by creating personalized playlists with familiar songs for enhanced memory retrieval and cognitive functioning, among a variety of other positive health effects.
  • The Lullaby Project, in partnership with Carnegie Hall, partners pregnant women and new mothers with professional musicians to compose lullabies for their babies, ultimately reducing maternal anxiety and depression, aiding in child development, and strengthening the bond between parent and child.
  • Artists in Residence at each hospital to develop art with that facility’s staff and patients.
  • NYC Health + Hospitals’ first Public Artist in Residence, part of the NYC Department of Cultural Affairs Public Artists in Residence program, which embeds artists in city agencies to propose and implement creative solutions to pressing civic challenges. The Public Artist in Residence will develop a project with the health system on gun violence.

NYC Health + Hospitals’ Arts in Medicine program was recently featured on PBS NewsHour: “Art and medicine intersect in New York City hospitals.


NYC Health + Hospitals: 212-788-3339; PressOffice@nychhc.org

Laurie M. Tisch Illumination Fund: Emily Labes, Rothschild & Associates, 216-650-7712, emilylabes@gmail.com

About the Laurie M. Tisch Illumination Fund
The Laurie M. Tisch Illumination Fund is a New York City-based foundation that strives to improve access and opportunity for all New Yorkers and foster healthy and vibrant communities.  The Illumination Fund plays an active role in supporting innovative approaches across a range of issues – ensuring that the arts and arts education are accessible to all, promoting civic service, and promoting economic opportunity. In 2018, the Illumination Fund launched Arts in Health, a multi-year initiative to support organizations working on health issues that impact New York communities and that emphasize the arts as a tool for healing and building understanding. The initiative’s areas of focus include the role of the arts in addressing mental illness stigma, trauma, and aging-related diseases. In 2019 the Illumination Fund supported the creation of NYC Health + Hospitals Arts in Medicine Program, expanding programs serving health care staff, patients, and communities in sites across the City. The grant also enabled NYC Health + Hospitals to launch new programs that use the arts as a resource to promote employee wellness and resilience and to combat compassion fatigue. In 2021, in part due to the COVID-19 Pandemic, the Illumination Fund expanded its focus areas to include the arts in mental health. For more information, visit https://thelmtif.org/ or follow @LMTischFund on Twitter.

About NYC Health + Hospitals’ Arts in Medicine Program
The Arts in Medicine department at NYC Health + Hospitals seeks to foster the emotional well-being and promote healing and wellness for all patients and their families, employees, and the greater community by utilizing the arts, including literary, visual, and performing arts throughout the health care system. In addition to managing the system’s significant visual arts collection, the Arts in Medicine department encourages evidenced based practices and provides technical assistance to all of the system’s health care facilities and clinics. This is accomplished by combining artistic innovation and education into a comprehensive health care continuum that supports the healing benefits of the arts. For more information, visit https://www.nychealthandhospitals.org/artsinmedicine/.

About NYC Health + Hospitals
NYC Health + Hospitals is the largest municipal health care system in the nation serving more than a million New Yorkers annually in more than 70 patient care locations across the city’s five boroughs. A robust network of outpatient, neighborhood-based primary and specialty care centers anchors care coordination with the system’s trauma centers, nursing homes, post-acute care centers, home care agency, and MetroPlus health plan—all supported by 11 essential hospitals. Its diverse workforce of more than 43,000 employees is uniquely focused on empowering New Yorkers, without exception, to live the healthiest life possible. For more information, visit www.nychealthandhospitals.org and stay connected on FacebookTwitter, Instagram and LinkedIn.