The Laurie M. Tisch Illumination Fund announces inaugural grants in new Arts & Mental Health Program to serve communities impacted by the COVID-19 Pandemic

Tuesday, January 11, 2022

The Laurie M. Tisch Illumination Fund announces inaugural grants in new Arts & Mental Health Program to serve communities impacted by the COVID-19 Pandemic

New York, NY, January 11, 2022: Philanthropist Laurie M. Tisch announced today that 14 New York City-based organizations will receive grants in the Illumination Fund’s new Arts & Mental Health program, an expansion of its Arts in Health initiative. The Arts & Mental Health program is designed to increase access to mental health services for communities with long-standing health disparities exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.

More than 120 arts and culture organizations responded to the Illumination Fund’s open-call Request for Proposals to small and medium sized organizations with budgets under $5 million. The organizations that are receiving grants work in communities that have often been overlooked and under resourced to deal with mental health challenges in their populations.

“After two long years, with so much tragic illness and death, data show that the COVID-19 pandemic has created a mental health pandemic in its wake, especially evident among communities already struggling to overcome other challenges,” said Laurie Tisch, founder and president of the Laurie M. Tisch Illumination Fund. “More people than ever are in need of mental health services and we want to make sure that our most vulnerable communities have access to programs that can help alleviate their suffering and build resilience.”

The COVID-19 pandemic has glaringly exposed long-standing health disparities that harm historically marginalized and vulnerable people, including communities of color and people with pre-existing social, economic and health challenges.

Disproportionate rates of infection, hospitalizations and deaths have been widely reported, however, less attention has been given to the unequal burden of mental health impacts. Similar inequities based on race and ethnicity are exacerbated by circumstances such as unemployment, domestic violence, homelessness, pre-existing mental illness, disabilities, and immigration status. Grants in the Arts & Mental Health program are targeted to use the arts as a vehicle to address mental health challenges and to fight stigma that is a barrier to seeking help.

The organizations receiving grants are deploying diverse strategies, including:
facilitated group-based narrative development and storytelling;

  • development of music, dance and theater-based programs with targeted mental health facets;
  • the sewing of story-cloths by refugees and survivors of gender-based violence;
  • new partnerships with mental health organizations or licensed providers;
  • embedding mental health counselors to serve staff and program participants;
  • providing training in trauma-informed practices;
  • increasing access to therapy for performing artists and arts workers; and
  • developing public performances as a vehicle to destigmatize mental health challenges and bring awareness to resources...
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