Harnessing the healing power of art


When the pandemic hit, no one was spared its impact. Some suffer physiologically, while others have psychosocial problems. There are those who have been affected financially. Some have been more affected than others and at different levels and capacities.

Working in the arts and culture sector, I have seen how the effects have been more direct and profound on performers, especially freelance and/or freelance artists.

I’m not a performing artist, but I can understand their anxiety. The lack of consistent income and limited access to affordable health care has shown vulnerability among our artists.

The participants of the Upskilling workshop in Iloilo

For years, these artists have been rehearsing all year round for their show seasons and suddenly the pandemic put a brake and everything stopped. For someone who was always somewhere performing and so on, being stuck at home with uncertainties about when they might be able to return to the stage could make anyone anxious.

Some have tolerated the changes well. Others have found different ways to survive. There are those who find it difficult to adapt and who thought it would be the end of their artistic career.

But we must see this global health situation as just a pause, not the end. Sometimes it’s all about perspective.

I don’t know if this is an aftereffect of COVID or a mid-career moment, but I recently thought about a sustainable way to work and live. More than just maintaining a work-life balance, I wondered how I could continue to improve or if there was a new skill I could learn to complement the skill set I currently have. Or maybe a new purpose in life.

I have participated in webinars on different topics, engaged in various new hobbies, and attended workshops such as the Upskilling in Performing Arts: Arts and Wellness workshop, held recently at Iloilo.

Organized by the CCP Arts Education Department (CCP AED), the Upskilling in Performing Arts project is a series of workshops that aims to provide performers with additional skills focusing on arts and well-being, festival management and performance conservation for 21st century museums. .

The Upskilling in Performing Arts: Arts and Wellness kicked off in Iloilo, followed by the NCR leg Oct. 25-29 at Tanghalang Huseng Batute; and culminating in Zamboanga City in November.

The workshop is in partnership with the office of Rep. Toff de Venecia, who leads the creative industry bloc in the House of Representatives, and Bereber Sayaw for Parkinson’s disease.

Novy Bereber teaches Sayaw for Parkinson’s disease

The Upskilling workshop in Iloilo focuses on harnessing the power of art in healing and wellness. Because they could not quantify or assess its core value and how much art can affect their lives, this concept of art for wellness seems vague to most people.

For participants to really understand the concept, the people who created the module for the workshop pushed for a holistic approach. They called on Dr. Luis Gatmaitan, a medical doctor, to explain the physiological benefits of engaging in artistic creation. They also hired Yeng Gatchalian, a psychologist, to provide a psychosocial assessment for art and mental well-being. Tracey Santiago, art trainer and life coach moderated the discussions.

It’s science meeting the arts – two totally different fields that you really marry, as Santiago puts it.

With the Upskilling workshop, it’s like killing two birds with one stone. The team provided a safe space for artists to share their stories and concerns about the pandemic and life in general. At the same time, they learn to maximize their art forms for possible economic opportunities.

The ultimate goal of this workshop is to train artists that they can exploit. Even though they want to provide art for healing and well-being in all disaster areas, they have few artists that we can tap into. By doing this development workshop, the community will grow. Participants in Iloilo can be the support group for Visayas, or can be deployed wherever they are needed.

Design your own paper folder

In recent times, there has been a call to action for artists and arts organizations to work with healthcare professionals in times of global crisis, whether natural disasters or home-grown situations. human.

This is something the CCP has responded to even before the call came through its Sining sa Eskwela (training teachers in the arts) and Sining Galing (art-based psychosocial activities).

Sining Galing began in 2005 when Fernando Josef called Eva Salvador, head of CCP AED, to do a healing art intervention for disaster survivors in Quezon. It was followed by a series of interventions they made in disaster areas.

“The Philippines experiences disasters throughout the year. We are hit by about 20 typhoons every year. Not to mention volcanic eruptions, floods, landslides and other natural disasters. There are also insurgencies and conflicts. When this happens, we are often called upon to react. Once the basic necessities have been met, that’s where we come in. We offer healing through art,” explained Salvador.

Culture should be the first offense in disasters because it has no colors. It is fundamental for our society; it is our way of life.

Salvador concluded: “We create culture-based modules. We do extensive research and create locally appropriate modules.

Why use art as a healing tool? The healing power of the arts comes from telling stories, expressing themselves in a safe environment and connecting people with their community.

Artistic activity during the Upskilling workshop

Why deploy artists? Because artists are flexible and creative. They can adapt to any situation and make the most of it.

Faced with the challenges of this unprecedented period, artists must adapt quickly. They innovate and adapt to the new normal. Their arts become their strength and their power.


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