Arts in Healing

Kahra Buss

Executive Director

Veterans Class

Veterans Class

In 2019, Perkins Center for the Arts began to evaluate its 40+ year legacy of programs, infrastructure, mission, vision, values, and strategic plan.During this time Perkins launched the Arts in Healing campaign to amplify the naturally therapeutic benefit of art making and arts engagement. Centered around arts engagement and not arts therapy, we wanted to know how Perkins’ programs were impacting participants. The questions of “what we (Perkins) do” and “how we do it” included questions about delivery methods, continuum of learning, accessibility, and engagement levels. We evaluated community partnerships in a different light identifying potential partners interested in Arts integration in their programs.

International Arts + Mind Lab

COVID altered our communities and our landscape forever in early 2020 and during this time Perkins chose to lean in. We conducted our own series of non-scientific tests (AKA “trial and error”) that illuminated more clearly than ever why the arts are essential to the health and wellbeing of our communities. Having followed the research of the International Arts+Mind Lab Center for Applied Neuroaesthetics since 2019 (AIML) I shared with our team some of the research that was being conducted there.

Your Brain on Art Book Cover

The Arts In Healing (AIH) program we had begun developing in early 2019, with Samson Cancer Center became a platform for how the organization has evolved programming since March 2020. As the important of this platform has grown in this organization, I bought the book, delved into Your Brain on Art when it was released in 2023. I’ve read it cover to cover and refer to it daily. What authors Susan Magsamen and Ivy Ross (and the multitude of researchers they have worked with) have done is proved what we as arts professionals, arts administrators, individuals who have grown up through the arts have always known… the Arts are good for us.

So What does Perkins’ Arts In Healing programming look like?

AIH is a variety of programs at Perkins to include:

A.R.T.S In-School Residency

According to Beresin (2024) “Arts and creative practices support individuals and communities and provide direct benefit to healing and recovery, physically and mentally. “ Individuals who participate in Perkins’ programs have shared their gratitude for the “Perkins Community”.



The data being collected by the IAML is proving that accessibility of the arts is necessary, and a practical approach to immediate need, whereas medical/pharmaceutical treatments may experience long testing and delivery times. The data is proving that there are measurable changes to the brain, body, and behavior through arts engagement. Research is quantifying the effects of arts on childhood education and proving the arts are essential to skill development, executive functioning skills, improved mental health, and positive social-emotional development.

A.R.T.S In-School Residency Mural

COVID effectively tore the social fabric of our communities and the decades of optimizing for efficiency/productivity – removing arts education from schools, creating sanitized, uniform spaces, automating experiences and environments – has diminished our interpersonal creativity and connections thereby creating a society more isolated and more lonely than ever.


Folk & Traditional Arts at Home, Perkins Folklife Center

Perkins’ programs promote community building amongst artists, of all levels and a wide array of mediums, promote community building through participatory “gatherings” like exhibitions and concerts, and promote intersectional community building within the diverse communities in South Jersey.

Consider supporting healing arts programming in southern New Jersey by becoming a member of Perkins Center for the Arts. With your membership, you’ll not only access exclusive benefits like class discounts and exhibition opportunities but also actively participate in the healing power of the arts.

Share Your Arts in Healing Experience at Perkins

Have you experienced the healing power of arts at Perkins Center for the Arts? We’d love to hear from you! Share your story and insights with us to inspire others.

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