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Great Lakes Theater "The Merry Wives of Windsor," 2014

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Synergies Are Created Through Collaborations (by Guest Blogger Ed Gallagher, Beck Center for the Arts)

Toddler Rock with Ed Gallagher (pictured) Photo by Robert Muller; courtesy of The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum

Toddler Rock and Ed Gallagher (pictured) Photo by Robert Muller; courtesy of The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum

With all of the discussion surrounding the intersection of the arts and health I have to admit that I feel like for the last 20 years I have been living in the corner house where those streets come together.  From where I sit, our arts community is at the top when it comes to quality, effective, and innovative programming that affect the health and wellness of our residents.

With CPAC’s newly released paper, Creative Minds in Medicine, the best kept secrets about our work is now out there for all to read.  This work, based research and best practices could not take place without collaborations.  This is where I have seen my work at Beck Center for the Arts as an arts educator and a Board Certified-Music Therapist take on deeper meaning. 

Razzle Dazzle - Beck Center

Razzle Dazzle at Beck Center for the Arts. photo by CCBDD Holly Grady

Razzle Dazzle, for example, is an experience that brings collaboration to life!  It is a stage production with 34 cast and crew members that stars individuals with special needs, as well as community volunteers from the Cuyahoga County Board of Developmental Disabilities’ (CCBDD) Rocky River Adult Activities Center’s (RRAAC) programs. This year Razzle celebrated its 14th year and welcomed over 500 patrons to three performances, two which were free to the community.  Rounding out the performance was an exhibit by art therapy participants and performances by the Maple Heights AAC and RRAAC Choirs.  Spurred on by the vision and collaboration of CCBDD and Beck staff members,Razzle Dazzle provides a creative outlet for participants, physical activity, a sense of community for the audience, and a program that showcases the talents of everyone involved.  Audiences leave the theater better for having taken part.

What happens when you bring together The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum, 14 music therapists and music therapy interns from Beck Center, University Hospitals Seidman Cancer Center Department of Art and Music Therapy, and private practices, and 400 pre-school aged kids from Head Start and other early childhood centers?  You get Toddler Rock, a one of a kind program where 3-year olds learn musical, literacy, and social skills, wrapped around the music and personalities of Rock Hall Inductees.  Participants are tested three times a year in order to track their progress.  You can read more about the program, curriculum, testing methods, and outcomes in the 2013 edition of imagine.

Our collaboration with the Cleveland Clinic, its Office of Civic Education Initiatives, and its Arts and Medicine Institute (AMI) is the perfect intersection the arts, health and wellness.  The Office of Civic Education Initiatives program, Spotlight on Learning, uses the arts to teach second-grade students about health and healthcare careers through interactive classroom presentations by Cleveland Clinic caregivers and teaching artists from Beck Center and other arts organizations to create an original, health-related play. Beck Center is proud to be one of several partnering arts organizations and home to annual performances of the aspiring actors. AMI and Beck Center continue to bring music therapy programming to Lakewood Hospital’s Senior Behavioral Health Unit and to Neurologic Rehabilitation where research is taking place regarding the effective use of music therapy to improve speech and motor skills post-stroke. Expansion of the partnership takes place this summer when AMI and Taussig Cancer Institute bring their photo exhibit to Beck Center’s art gallery.  This exhibit, based on the themes of Courage, Love, and Hope, was created by Cancer Institute patients, families, and staff; and it will be an honor to share their photographs and messages with our audience.

Synergies are created when meaningful authentic collaborations take place.  These collaborations may be unconventional when services are taken into arenas where you would not expect to see arts education or arts therapies programming. However, when the end result meets the goals of the program and missions of the organizations, it is our constituents and participants that benefit.  It is then that we, as artists of all kinds, improve the health, wellness and well-being of our region.

For more on arts and health intersections, attend the Creative Minds in Medicine Conference on October 29-30 and read the report released last Spring.

This blog is used under license and was submitted by volunteer contributor Edward P. Gallagher, MT-BC. Ed is Director of Education at Beck Center for the Arts, currently serves as President of the Cleveland Arts Education Consortium and has been honored by the City of Lakewood for bringing the healing powers of music to the community.  Read more about the organization at beckcenter.org  and view Beck Center’s 80th Anniversary video to learn more about its years of creating arts experiences and collaborations. The opinions represented here are the authors' own and do not necessarily reflect the views of CPAC. CPAC does not endorse the purchase of products or services by its guest bloggers. We thank all writers for volunteering their expertise with us in order to continue to strengthen, unify and connect greater Cleveland’s arts and culture community.

Categories: Artists, arts, Arts Education, artsandhealth, Best Practices, collaboration, connect, cross-sector, health, Music

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