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UW–Madison Arts Institute Receives NEA Award

NEA Chairman Jane Chu

National Endowment for the Arts “NEA” Chairman Jane Chu has approved more than $82 million to fund local arts projects and partnerships in the NEA’s second major funding announcement for fiscal year 2016. Included in this announcement is an Art Works award of $18,000 to the University of Wisconsin–Madison Arts Institute to support research associated with the interdisciplinary Communicating Science Initiative. The Art Works category supports the creation of work and presentation of both new and existing work, lifelong learning in the arts and public engagement with the arts through 13 arts disciplines or fields.

“The arts are all around us, enhancing our lives in ways both subtle and obvious, expected and unexpected,” said NEA Chairman Jane Chu. “Supporting projects like the one from the UW–Madison Arts Institute and their collaborating partners offers more opportunities to engage in the arts every day.”

“This is an exciting opportunity to work with colleagues in the health sciences on an important issue,” said Arts Institute Interim Executive Director Norma Saldivar. “The fact that we can bring theatre training techniques and utilize them to draw research that could be of impact to future medical professionals and theatre professionals with help us collect data that will be illuminating and inspirational. It is our hope that this study will lead us to future collaborations that will demonstrate the important link between the arts and medical sciences.”

Funding from the National Endowment of the Arts will support comprehensive research efforts associated with a campus-wide initiative called Communicating Science. This study will examine whether healthcare trainees who learn improvisational theater techniques show greater empathy toward team members and others in a healthcare setting setting. Using standardized assessments and semi-structured interviews, this mixed methods study will measure participants’ accuracy of identifying emotion through facial expressions, perspective-taking and emphathic behaviors, both pre-and post-intervention. Changes in outcomes will be compared with those for a control group that will be assigned research articles about the impact of empathy on healthcare practice. This research will impact future courses and workshops taken by individuals in a variety of healthcare and science-based disciplines.