Power of Culture Blog
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This month, the Public Health Institute of Western Massachusetts released its findings from Phase I of the Social Prescription Pilot Program, which launched in January 2020 in Springfield and Berkshire County.
As part of the CultureRx Initiative, this pilot program focused on building a cohort of cultural organizations to work with professional care providers to positively affect the health and well-being of the people of their community. One health clinic participated in giving referrals (social prescriptions) by doctors to cultural organizations for specific health reasons such as social isolation, depression, and hypertension.
The Springfield pilot was focused on understanding patients’ readiness, interest, and comfort level with attending or engaging with three major cultural institutions in their community — Enchanted Circle Theater, Community Music School of Springfield, and Springfield Museums — often for the first time, and what effective community partnerships could offer. In Berkshire County, MACONY Pediatrics presented a choice of prescriptions to patients and their families to attend one of five different cultural organizations — Norman Rockwell Museum, MASS MoCA, Berkshire Theatre Group, Mass Audubon Berkshire Wildlife Sanctuaries, and Community Access to the Arts (CATA).
The Institute’s findings described the positive impact the social prescription of cultural experiences had on participants, cultural organizations, and medical providers. Specifically, the pilot program moved forward three priorities of participating organizations that are mirrored in the work of the Mass Cultural Council:
Inspired with these findings, we are continuing to move forward on a statewide Social Prescription Pilot, which will include an innovative new program from the Franklin Park Zoo along with an expanded cohort of organizations dedicating themselves to advancing the role of culture as a protective factor for the health of everyone in the Commonwealth.