Since 1978, Arts & Health has sought to enrich and support the healthcare environment by providing quality literary, performing and visual arts programming to Duke University Hospital and its hospital-based clinics. We believe that access to the arts is essential to the health and well-being of patients, their loved ones, staff, volunteers and visitors.
Arts & Health provides a multitude of services for patients and those who care for them, including journaling sessions, musical performances and art for waiting areas and patient rooms.
Arts & Health at Duke was founded in 1978 by James H. Semans, MD, in collaboration with Wayne Rundles, MD, professor of hematology and then-president of the American Cancer Society. First known as Cultural Services, the program originally offered monthly musical performances in the hospital cafeteria with the support of the Mary Duke Biddle Foundation.
With a successful grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, additional funds from the Mary Duke Biddle Foundation, and the support of a receptive, progressive hospital administration, the program was officially organized in October 1978.
Programming expanded to include not only performing arts but also the the acquisition of visual art for patient rooms and waiting areas and a literary arts program that offers journaling and poetry programs.
As one of the oldest and most comprehensive hospital arts programs in the United States, Arts & Health is a recognized leader in the international arts and health movement. From organizing the first convocation of hospital arts programs to publishing the first guide for developing arts in healthcare programs, Arts & Health continues to develop partnerships between arts and healthcare organizations. Janice Palmer, founding director of of Duke’s program, was also instrumental in founding the Global Alliance for Arts and Health and North Carolina Arts for Health (NCAH), the first statewide organization for the field.
Arts & Health at Duke is now a department within Patient Experience of the Duke University Health System.
Make A Gift
Your donation to Arts & Health at Duke help support future programming for patients at Duke University Hospital.