Having been out of Northern Ireland for the past fortnight, I have just become aware of the debate initiated by Mr Graham of NIPSA on the 'Per cent for art' scheme.
On behalf of Arts Care, a unique local Arts in Health charity, I would like to confirm our full support for the scheme and confirm that, although we neither receive nor administer funding from the project, we do see positive benefits in our work.
Our organisation's mission is to promote and co-ordinate the development of arts provision within healthcare settings throughout Northern Ireland for the benefit of patients, clients, residents, staff and visitors.
We firmly believe in the benefits of creativity to well-being - from developing self-confidence and self-esteem, to improving staff and patients' relationships and morale. And there is a plethora of research that clearly demonstrates the importance of the arts in the healing process.
Since 1992 Arts Care has been fortunate to secure funding from Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety, as well as financial support from other funding streams, including the Arts Council of Northern Ireland and Belfast City Council. Since then our team's work has grown, gaining not only national, but also international recognition.
Another innovative approach to Arts in Health was the establishment in 2004 of a team of Clown Doctors who work in acute hospitals and hospices with very sick children and/or children with disabilities and those with life-limiting illnesses, demonstrating that 'laughter is the best medicine'.
In summary, what Arts Care does is to offer hands on experience of the arts, bringing out the latent creativity of patients and staff as well as that of families and visitors. We in Arts Care are proud of our achievements to date and will continue to build on them for the benefit of the public at large.
John C N Chairman, Arts Care