The Arts & Health

The Research Exchange Group on Arts and Health creates community and collaborative opportunities for Memorial University researchers, community activists, and artists from Newfoundland and Labrador, and across Canada, who want to explore how the arts connect to health. The group exchanges research and practice ideas about how the creative arts, at their core, are good for individuals and communities. Creative arts include: dance, music, poetry, painting, crafts, drama, etc. The group meets monthly to network, discuss research in progress, hold seminars, present on research projects and arts practice, engage in experiential workshops, initiate collaborative partnerships, and discover potential funding for further research.

The group provides a unique opportunity for collaboration among: dancers, musicians, visual artists, arts administrators, educators, health practitioners, art therapists, graduate students, and researchers from various faculties at Memorial and within Newfoundland and Labrador. Presenters are working on diverse arts and health-related projects, that range from community-based participatory research, to learning how art is connected to wellbeing.

The group's conveners are Dr. Natalie Beausoleil, Community Health & Humanities, and Haley Toll, Canadian Arts Therapy Association, a PhD. student in the faculty of Education at Memorial.


October 8, 2020 at 2:00pm| ARTS AND HEALTH COMPENDIUM PROJECT | Lynsey Alcock prepared an impressive compendium of arts and health research and programming from across Newfoundland and Labrador as part of her MPH Practicum at Memorial’s Faculty of Medicine this year. Lynsey will present what she learned, we’ll all find out what’s happening out there, and we’ll officially launch the NL Arts and Health Compendium, the first of its kind for our province, and a valuable resource for this group.

November 12, 2020 at 2:00pm NST| ART & HEALING IN HISTORY | Sandra Hewitt-Parsons, BA, DKATI , N.D., Art Psychotherapist, Artist, Registered Naturopath Founder, Safe Harbour Expressive Arts Therapies shares research on, and a video of, on early art and healing and the Grenfell mission in Newfoundland.

December 10, 2020 at 2:00pm NST | SOUND MIND, BODY & SPIRIT: HOW DOES BEING A MUSIC STUDENT IMPACT HEALTH & WELLBEING? Hannah Boone and Allen Chang are medical students and musicians. Hannah Boone completed her undergraduate music degree at McGill University in Orchestral Trumpet Performance; Allen Chang, a medical student at McGill, is a violinist. Hannah and Allen will present the findings from their conjoint research project on musicians’ health. This research project explores topics of mental, physical and social health, comparing music students with non-music students and professional musicians.


February 18, 2020 | 1:00pm NST| PAPER DOLL WORKSHOP: In a recent project on identities and subjectivities, with Dr Heather McLeod and Haley Toll, Cecile Badenhorst and the team reflected on the role of our imaginative selves as an important part of ethical practice as educators and writers in academic contexts. Dr. Badenhorst wrote about making paper dolls as a way of exploring our non-linguistic ways of knowing and being, and as a way of re-positioning oneself in contexts of stress and anxiety. In this hands-on workshop, she invites you to join her in making a paper art doll. No skills are required. If you can, bring scissors and a glue stick, and she will provide the rest of the supplies. Making paper dolls is particularly powerful way of engaging the imaginative self and it’s lots of fun too. Cecile Badenhorst is an Associate Professor in the Adult Education/Post-Secondary program in the Faculty of Education at Memorial University. As a researcher, she engages in qualitative, arts-based and post-structural research methodologies.

March 17, 2020| YOUTH AND MUSIC! Brittany Howell, School of Pharmacy, Memorial University Master’s research on perceptions and experiences of youth participating in a community-based music program as well as their caregivers, and their instructors.

November 5, 2019 | Michelle Winkel and Lucille Proulx on Canadian Art Therapy in Japan, Egypt, and Thailand. Michelle Winkel MA, MFT, ATR, REAT, is Clinical Director of the Canadian International Institute of Art Therapy. Michelle is an art therapist, trained facilitator, and supervisor, with twenty years of experience working directly with groups, families, and individuals. Lucille Proulx, MA., ATR, CRAT is a registered art therapist in both Canada and the U.S.A. Her 50 years plus of experience consists of working with children and parents in the community, private clinic and in the department of infant and child psychiatry at The Montreal Children’s Hospital. She is the past Executive Director of The B.C. School of Art Therapy (BCSAT). Lucille is an Honorary Life Member of The Canadian Art Therapy Association (CATA) and The Association des Arts-Therapeutes du Quebec (AATQ). She is a member of the Advisory Committee of Arts Health Canada and the vice president of the Canadian Art Therapy Association.

November 22, 2019 | Roundtable discussion on Arts & Health policy making- informing a new Scoping review for provincial and federal governments in Canada. Link to World Health Organization Health Evidence Network Synthesis Report: What is the Evidence on the Role of the Arts in Improving Health and Well-Being?  -  A Scoping Review

October 15, 2019 |Research, Knowledge Translation, and the Arts: Using digital stories to explore the experiences of breast cancer patients | In this presentation, Dr. Natalie Beausoleil and Dr. Kathleen Sitter described a research project that used digital stories created by women who have breast cancer. The researchers will outline the key findings of this research project and will discuss plans for knowledge translation through a theatrical performance at the Resource Centre for the Art (LSPU Hall) in St. John’s, NL - November 7-November 10 - following from this research project.

November 27, 2018  Transversing Dr. Pamela Ward and Daze Jeffries of the collaborating team (For the Love of Learning/ Artistic Fraud)  discussed the process of collaboration that led to the September 2018 performance of Transversing, a work that explored the lives and experiences of transgender people. Slides

January 22, 2019  | Arts-based interventions with at-risk youth| A.  Shruti Raheja presented her research on arts-based interventions with at-risk youth, administered  through a community program in St. John's, NL. Slides

February 19, 2019 |Understanding International Arts in Health and Wellbeing Structures and Implications for Canada | Through dialogue and discussion, this virtual online presentation presents Haley Toll’s current findings and brief research regarding reports from national coalitions and organizations that support arts in health and wellbeing practice and research, including creative arts therapies. A variety of initiatives, including those introduced in the United Kingdom, the United States, and Australia, will be presented. Through the analysis of national and provincial/territorial arts in health and wellbeing white papers and policy briefings, participants will be invited to discuss and consider next research steps and ways to strengthen organizational collaborations in Canada, and in Newfoundland and Labrador.

April 30, 2019  |  Leah Lewis on the Hearthstone Art Hive - Members will be invited to participate in an Art Hive at Hearthstone, 42 Bannerman Street, St. John's

May 8 2019 | Capturing Beauty: From Carnegie Hall to Clarenville - Writing lullabies in a Newfoundland women's prisonwith Jan Buley, a professor of education at Memorial University in St. John's and David Buley, a professor of music education at Memorial. Link to media

October 25, 2018 |Right Care, Right Time, Right Place: Stories of the Atlantic Canada Art Therapy Roadshow, a video diary of three art therapists working in Atlantic Canada,  with Sandra Hewitt Parsons  LINK TO VIDEO

January 16, 2018 | Dr. Leah Lewis, Faculty of Education on the Disability Arts Symposium and playwright Lois Brown on Chronic Pain and Dis (Arts) aesthetics in two of her recent performances.

February 28, 2018 | "You'll Never Forget These Stories:" Monologue writing and metaphor exploring with youth at promise:  this presentation will highlight what happened when youth at a homeless shelter were invited to write and show their their lifestories through song, poetry, and artefacts.  Presented by Dr. Jan Buley, Faculty of Education at Memorial.

March 20, 2018 | The work of the Canadian Art Therapy Association Haley Toll, Director  and Sandra Hewitt Parsons, art therapist

May 16, 2017| The Shea Heights Community Alliance and Arts-Based programming:Link to videos from the presentation by Dr. Stephen Darcy and Dr. Lisa Bishop

April 20, 2017 | Indigenous Health & Nursing- arts-based research Dr. Zaida Rahaman on her arts-based research in indigenous health & nursing.  Link to Dr. Rahaman's scholarly publication in Journal of Holistic Nursing: "An Opportunity for Healing and Holistic Care: Exploring the Roles of Health Care Providers Working Within Northern Canadian Aboriginal Communities"

March 9, 2017: Leah Lewis and Heather McLeod on the Open Studio project

February 9, 2017 | The Murphy Centre and the Arts Lauren Power on career counselling for arts and culture clients at the Murphy Centre

January 12, 2016 | Transportation Accessibility for Persons with Disabilities in St. John’s, NL with Dr. Kathleen Sitter, School of Social Work (Photovoice Project )

March 8, 2016 | Arts-based HIV/AIDS Education for Aboriginal Youth in Labrador: A Community-Based Participatory Action Research Project Rachel Landy, PhD Research Projec

April 5, 2016 | Exhibiting creative strength in caregiving for loved ones with dementia; Megan Morrison, PhD Research Project: 

May 10, 2016 | The Inclusion Choir at Stella's Circle. Making “Joyful Noises” Together: Exploring the Impact of Group Singing on Individual and Community Mental Health and Wellbeing. Carolyn Chong, PhD Candidate in Ethnomusicology

October 20, 2016 |  The Better Breathing Choir for people with lung conditions and breathing difficulties with Dr. Jane Gosine, School of Music

December 1, 2015 | Using the Virtues Project resources for participant/patient engagement: a creative workshop with Elayne Greeley, Partnership Broker, CCEP Project. 

November 3 2015 | Music and Health with Dr. Jane Gosine, Professor (musicology), School of Music, Memorial University   Here are useful links from that talk

March 11 2015 | A participatory video and sexual rights for persons with disabilities with Dr. Kathleen Sitter, School of Social Work

April 8 2015 | The power to heal: promoting artistic activities and exploring the possibility of integrating an arts program in our medical school. Dr. Natalie Beausoleil shared preliminary findings from interviews for her research project

May 6 2015 | Emerging work with the principles of improvisation, "Improvisation and the Hearing Voices Network with Lori Clarke, graduate research 

June 9, 2015|  Research on ethics and arts-based and visual methods in research. Dr. Susan Cox of UBC specializes in the ethics of arts-based research methods. While visiting St. John's, she spoke to the group about her research on ethics.

November 17, 2014 | A workshop on drama and improvisational techniques that help children work towards improved social skills and self-expression Corie Harnett  

September 18 2014 | PhD research on Art Therapy for the Autism Spectrum Disorder Population, Christina Dove PhD Candidate, Neuroscience

August 8, 2014| An interactive tour of the Rooms Provincial Art Gallery to the group, featuring Pam Hall's exhibit Housework(s), hosted by Anne Pickard-Vaandering Details here 

On July 31, 2014|  Screening of doctoral film "Good Grief" which explored a personal narrative about the grief associated with end-stage renal disease by Dr. Leah Lewis

June 25, 2014| Evaluating Community Impact: Capturing and Making Sense of Community Outcomes. Elayne Greeley, Community Employment Collaboration


World Health Organization Health Evidence Network Synthesis Report: What is the Evidence on the Role of the Arts in Improving Health and Well-Being? - A Scoping Review

The Arts Health Network of Canada (AHNC) brings arts and health activities into the mainstream of Canadian life so that all Canadians are able to engage in art for the health of it, as well as the joy of it. Learn more about the network here:

The National Forum on the Arts & Health convenes researchers, business leaders, legal experts, policymakers, urban planners, architects, youth, health practitioners, artists, and representatives of other key sectors of Canadian society to explore how the arts and health are connected and to motivate artists for social change.

Learn more here:



Newfoundland & Labrador Centre for Applied Health Research

230 Elizabeth Ave, St. John's, NL, CANADA, A1B 3X9

Postal Address: P.O. Box 4200, St. John's, NL, CANADA, A1C 5S7

Tel: (709) 864-8000