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Home / Blog / Communities / New Round of Investments Made in Social Prescription

New Round of Investments Made in Social Prescription

Käthe Swaback. Program Officer

$100,000 to support the role of cultural experiences as a protective factor in the health and well-being of all people in the Commonwealth

two people stand looking at a 2 dimensional work on paper consisting of colorful abstract buildings. One person has their arm raised pointing to something in the artwork.
People enjoying artwork on display at the Community Access to the Arts (CATA).

Mass Cultural Council is proud to continue building capacity for cultural organizations to play a key role in the health and well-being of individuals and communities throughout Massachusetts. Through our CultureRx Initiative we are investing $100,000 in Social Prescription grants in FY23 through a cohort of 10 organizations across the Commonwealth.

The CultureRx Initiative uses the term “social prescribing” to describe when a health provider refers a patient to a partner arts and cultural organization in the community for the benefit of support, connection, inspiration and/or well-being. Launched in January 2020, Mass Cultural Council focused the first phase of the initiative on building a cohort of eight cultural organizations, working with two professional care providers, to positively affect the health and well-being of people in the communities of Western Massachusetts. Building on the success of Phase I, Phase II of the pilot expanded the program to include 12 organizations from throughout the state. Those same 12 organizations were funded to continue the work in FY22 under Phase III. Now, in FY23 (Phase IV), 10 of these organizations chose to continue the work to address barriers and build upon the success of the initiative.

Congratulations to the FY23 Social Prescription grant recipients:

  • Museum of Fine Arts Boston is continuing their “Artful Healing” program for social prescription, offering arts experiences for inpatients at Boston Children’s Hospital.
  • Urbanity Dance is continuing their Dance with Parkinson’s Program (DWP) for social prescription working with the Center for Neurorehabilitation at Boston University’s Sargeant College.
  • The Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute is continuing their “Rx for Wellness at the Clark” program where social workers and mental health professionals prescribe experiences at the museum for clients.
  • Community Music Center of Boston is continuing their “CultureRx at CMCB” program inviting referrals in social prescription for young people in music therapy from the South End Community Health Center.
  • Community Music School of Springfield is offering “CultureRx Workshops” for social prescription by co-creating culturally relevant experiences for the diverse population of clients from Behavioral Health Network (BHN) Integration and the Latino Counseling Center.
  • Community Access to the Arts, Norman Rockwell Museum, Mass Audubon, and Berkshire Theatre Group is continuing to receive referrals from MACONY pediatrics and Community Health Programs and offer programming to young people and families in Berkshire County by continuing to partner for social prescription (other partners may include Volunteers in Medicine, United Cerebral Palsy of Western Massachusetts, Berkshire Area Office Department of Developmental Services, Berkshire County Arc, Family Support Center)
  • Franklin Park Zoo is offering membership through their “Social Rx” program for young people for exercise and health/well-being.

As part of this year’s Social Prescription work, Dr. Tasha Golden, Director of Research at the International Arts + Mind Lab at Johns Hopkins Medicine, will offer trainings for the cohort organizations and will work to further implement the recommendations from last year’s study, Mass Cultural Council’s “CultureRx” Evaluation of a Social Prescription Pilot.

The study reported that participating health providers found benefit in being able to offer direct and accessible non-medical “prescriptions” to patients. As a result, the providers recommended the expansion of Social Prescription. The study also found that patients who redeemed social prescriptions reported overwhelmingly positive experiences. This year, Golden will continue to co-develop and manage evaluation strategies and assess the impact of the social prescribing activities.

In addition, Mass Cultural Council will create a field guide with the help of two members of our Social Prescription Task Force, Dr. Lisa Wong, and Brooke D. Evans. We also plan to continue our collaboration with the Center for Arts in Medicine at the University of Florida and at the EpiArts Lab as we seek to gain further evidence of health impacts of arts/culture, focusing on equity and access as priority concerns.

Also in FY23, Mass Cultural Council staff will work with a strategic consultant, two task force members, and Dr. Golden to focus on advocacy, support, convenings, and developing a plan for an effective transfer of the Initiative to another entity in FY24.

Questions about Social Prescription or the CultureRx Initiative? Contact Käthe Swaback.


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