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New Mercer County Initiative Promotes the Health Benefits of the Arts

originally published: 10/03/2023

New Mercer County Initiative Promotes the Health Benefits of the Arts

(HAMILTON TOWNSHIP, NJ) -- Did you know that attending concerts or visiting museums once or twice a month can reduce the risk of depression in adults over 50 years old by 47%? And that adolescents who participate in the arts are 24% less likely to experience depression — and 22% less likely to engage in substance use? We know through research and our lived experiences that participation in the arts has a positive impact on our physical, emotional and social health.

This is why nearly a dozen arts and cultural organizations in Mercer County have come together as one coalition called Arts & Health Mercer to share this message and generate awareness of the health benefits of the arts. Throughout the month of November, now recognized around the world as Arts and Health Month, the collaborative will leverage its collective resources and creative talents to promote the health and wellness of our community through special events and programming.

The initiative will kick off with an Opening Celebration on Saturday, November 4 from 10:00am to 4:00pm, at the Robert Wood Johnson Fitness and Wellness Center (3100 Quakerbridge Road) in Hamilton. “It will be a day of live music, theater, reflection, art making, and community building,” says Janie Hermann, adult programming manager at the Princeton Public Library.

The public is invited to this free event featuring interactive workshops for the whole family and a presentation by keynote speaker Christina D. Eskridge, MPH, founder and executive director of Elevate Theatre Company in New York. A full schedule is available on the website at artshealthmercer.org.

All are invited to a special reception at 3:00pm featuring food and refreshments provided by Jersey Girl Cafe. “We will be on hand to answer questions and share information with the press, participating organizations and others interested in learning more about this initiative and future opportunities to collaborate in ways that elevate the health and wellness of our communities, which is so important today,” adds Aylin Green, executive director of West Windsor Arts.



 
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The celebration will continue throughout the month with a variety of programs and activities presented by the participating organizations, which currently include Art Against Racism, Arts Council of Princeton, McCarter Theatre, Morven Museum and Garden, Princeton Public Library, Princeton Symphony Orchestra, Princeton University Art Museum, Princeton University Concerts, and West Windsor Arts.

An exciting lineup of programs has already been scheduled, and the list of activities keeps growing. It includes a wellness walk at the Grounds for Sculpture, a drawing nature workshop at the Princeton University Art Museum, an open acoustic jam at the Princeton Public Library, a poetry workshop at the Morven Museum and Garden, a live music meditation by Princeton University Concerts, art exhibits and an embroidery circle at the Arts Council of Princeton, open mouth poetry and art-making workshops at West Windsor Arts, plus an evening of discussion with Pulitzer Prize-winning author Jhumpa Lahiri and “Healing with Cancer through Music” with Suleika Jaouad, writer, and Jon Batiste, musician.

A full calendar of programming, with more details and additional programs, can be found on the new Arts & Health Mercer website at artshealthmercer.org. Other Mercer County organizations are welcome to submit additional programming aligned with the mission of the coalition.

“We formed Arts & Health Mercer to provide opportunities for everyone in our community to engage in the arts. No experience is necessary, just a desire to tap into your creative side and immerse yourself, even for an hour or two, in music, theater, painting, whatever it is that brings you joy and encourages expression,” says Green.

The Opening Celebration is presented with financial and organizational support from Princeton University Art Museum, RWJ Barnabas Health Hamilton, New Jersey Council for the Humanities, Princeton Public Library and West Windsor Arts. Additional programmatic support from steering committee organizations includes Art Against Racism, Arts Council of Princeton, McCarter Theatre, Morven Museum and Garden, Princeton Symphony Orchestra, and Princeton University Concerts.



 
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