Hospital Arts Trust worthy of council support
Galway University Hospitals Arts Trust run the west of Ireland’s leading Arts and Health programme. Based in Galway University Hospitals, the charity brings live art experiences to the bedside of patients as well as to visitors and staff of the hospital as a means of improving the hospital experience for all. Programme highlights include regular music events at ward level, clown doctors in the children’s ward, Troubadours for Health by the Gombeens for our older patients, memoir writing for long stay patients as well as an extensive programme of classes, exhibitions, poetry, music and theatre events. We also work in partnership with several of the city’s arts organisations and have programmed over 300 events in the past nine years.
I was surprised to read the comment by Councillor Keane in the Advertiser last week that the grant allocation for the trust should be given to the Jazz Festival. In these difficult times of austerity and cutbacks I do not envy the councillor’s task in allocating funding to the various groups. It is unfortunate when small festivals are cut; but one cannot underestimate the value of the creative arts in healthcare. GUH Arts Trust provides opportunity for thousands of people on a daily basis to access and participate in the arts. A headcount in Galway University Hospitals on April 12 this year came to 3,492. Every member of the community in Galway will visit the hospital whether for work, an appointment, to be admitted or supporting a loved one. All these people have an opportunity to engage with the arts whether on a subconscious level or actively engaging in the various programmes.
With our programme those unable to visit a gallery or attend a classical music recital through ill health can hear ConTempo performing a Beethoven overture or see an artwork by one of Ireland’s masters Louis le Brocquy. They might sit in a waiting room and read an inspiring poem in our poetry series while they wait for test results. Or perhaps write a memoir about their school days as they while away their hours in a chair; the hospital now their home for many years.
The mural on the wall might distract the little child as the doctor takes a blood sample. What we do is so important and I am proud of what the Arts Trust has achieved in giving people the opportunity to engage in something special; if it only takes their mind of their troubles for a fleeting moment or reminds them of the joy when they received the all clear.
I see around me when I come to work the benefit of the city council grant and how far it goes to making a difference in the hospital community. When it comes to value for money the Arts Trust is providing a service to a whole community of people not only from Galway city and its hinterland but people from as far away as Inishowen in Donegal right down to County Clare. We are also providing work and opportunities for artists, writers and musicians.
This week in the city we are in the throes of the largest arts festival in Ireland. There is a buzz and excitement in the city as thousands of people attends the various events. There are patients here in our hospital unable to attend but a little bit of the festival comes to them each year; as do many of the other arts events in the city thanks to the collaborations with our local arts groups and artists.
Finally I want to thank the city councillors for not cutting the grant this year and City Arts Officer James C Harrold for his support, advocacy, knowledge and belief in what we are trying to achieve here in our public hospitals in times of difficulty.
Margaret Flannery, Arts Director
Galway University Hospitals Arts Trust