B.C. Children's Hospital puts out call to Canadian artists for healing-art project

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      A challenge has been put forth for artists across Canada to submit applications for a hospital art project. 

      The Teck Acute Care Centre, currently under construction at the B.C. Children's Hospital, is set to be completed by November 2017, and aims to be "the brightest space in North America for sick kids", according to a news release.

      The Children's Healing Experience Project initiative aims to cover 60,000 square feet of the eight-storey building with art that will captivate and comfort children, families, and staff to make the hospital experience less anxious and stressful.

      Joanna Newman, communications officer at the B.C. Children's Hospital Foundation, told the Straight by phone that the aim is to give "the best possible healing and engaging environment for patients and families when they're coming to the hospital".

      The project's goal is to "enrich the healing environment" for patients ranging from newborns all the way to ages 17 or 18. Newman said the artwork will not be limited to just paintings but will include wall murals, ceiling tiles, and sculptures.

      "We're looking to commission up to 400 pieces of work," she said. "As we start to interact with artists, we will find ways to work together on those specific pieces." 

      Newman described a 'healing environment' as a territory that "welcomes warmly the people that are entering it", whether it is something as simple as coming through the front-lobby area or being in a clinical space.

      "For healing, it's something that reduces anxiety, is colourful, is engaging and purposeful, and can find a way to reduce anxiety as they enter into the space," she said. "The environment itself is part of the treatment."

      Newman said the artwork may be used as a tool by parents, for example, as something to look forward to and discuss with their children, or to be talked about by staff as a distractor to what is happening.

      "It is something that gives tools to patients to reduce anxiety and for parents to help with coping and the anticipation," she said. "For the staff, it's to walk children what they're going through in a way that's not clinical and sterile and stressful and frightening."

      The artwork will be placed in a number of locations throughout the hospital but will need to meet the hospital's safety standards. For example, having surfaces that are specially treated so they can be regularly washed in order to avoid harbouring germs, or having some items in glass cases, the release noted.

      Newman said artists from across Canada are encouraged to apply but they are looking mainly at artists from B.C. and the Yukon, because that is where the patients come from. 

      "We feel like those [artists] are the people that we will be looking to to look after their home community," she said. "But we know that there's talent all across Canada, so we wanted to keep it open for that."

       The budget for the art call is set at $1 million for 400 pieces.  Artists have until May 6 to apply

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