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Arts Council wants to further talks about art in health care in 2016

The Campbell River Arts Council is looking forward to 2016.

“We’re in a good place right now,” says executive director Ken Blackburn with a smile. “I mean, there’s always work to be done, but we’re in a great position to continue some key discussions and keep moving forward.”

One of those discussions, Blackburn says, is what their role – and the role of art itself – will be in the new hospital facility.

While the new hospital is supposedly being designed to feature art prominently throughout the facility, Blackburn says, we have a unique opportunity to take that a step further.

“If there was one thing that I would call a vision as we move forward,” Blackburn says, “it would be to establish an art and health research centre in our new hospital.”

That sounds like a pretty big goal, but Blackburn isn’t getting too far ahead of himself in terms of what that would look like. It’s not like he’s picturing an entire wing of the new facility that will be for art research or anything.

“With a new hospital coming, there’s no reason we can’t make this happen. Tell me there isn’t a closet space in there somewhere or a small office – or we could do it as a satellite office – where we could work in partnership with the hospital to start putting into place programs that can be evaluated and analyzed and become part of the larger research and continue to be a part of that discussion.”

They’re already in the discussion, after all. So why wouldn’t they want to further it?

“We’re off to a good start with what we’re already doing,” Blackburn says, pointing out that arts are already in the health care discussion provincially, even being featured in a goals video produced by the Ministry of Health late last year. “And we’re working with various community groups running various programs, and we run a music therapy program. When we’re talking about arts in health care, we’re talking about all forms of it, and we’re already making big strides.

“There’s all kinds of things that could be done, so let’s keep doing them.”

Blackburn feels that Campbell River is an ideal community for this type of research to be done. We may not have a university or teaching hospital like some larger centres, but we have two other things that are important – location and demographics.

“In terms of research in health care, this would be a model community for it,” Blackburn says.

Not only are we getting a brand-new primary care facility that we’re hopefully custom-building to serve our community and region how we want it to, but we are also a place where, as Blackburn puts it, “you know you’re going to have an increasing demographic of aging people, because they’re retiring here, and that trend is only going to continue.”

Which makes us, Blackburn says, “kind of the perfect location. We’re a ‘straddle,’ in the sense that we have one foot in the rural – but we’re also only a few hours from places like Victoria and Vancouver.

“For a lot of the baby boomers who are becoming retirees, this is the kind of lifestyle they’re looking for. They don’t have to completely abandon their urban lifestyle and roots, but on the other hand, they’re looking for some adventure and want an active outdoors lifestyle,” and a more laid-back kind of atmosphere that a smaller centre like Campbell River can provide.

“It’s an exciting discussion to be a part of, and I think that’s where a lot of our focus is going to be in 2016 – to maintain the things we already have established and keep moving forward, keeping those lines of communication open, and keep that going and grow it.”

The other focus of the Arts Council in 2016 will be to continue their role in public art and the discussion about the role of art in community identity.

“The Public Art Committee was just struck late last year,” Blackburn says, “so we’ve only actually had two meetings. This will be our first full year of figuring out what that committee can do. 2016 is going to be a real test year for it. It’s going to be really exciting.”

Follow along with their year at crarts.ca or Like them on Facebook.

 

Mike Davies

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