Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Arts Help Make Day Brighter Riverside Fine Arts Group Starts Program

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Arts Help Make Day Brighter Riverside Fine Arts Group Starts Program

Article excerpt

Residents of St. Catherine Laboure Manor recently got something extra with their spaghetti and meatballs.

At a lunchtime concert, they were treated to a romantic duet from the musical Ragtime, an infectious spiritual, a praise psalm in Latin, an amusing song about a pancake maker and other selections, courtesy of the Jacksonville University Chamber Singers.

It's part of a new program called "Body and Soul: The Art of Healing," a component of the Riverside Fine Arts Association.

The program is being piloted at St. Catherine's and funded by the St. Vincent's Foundation. If successful, it will be expanded to other health-care facilities.

Each month, professional artists will perform at St. Catherine's in a group setting. Every other week, they will be going room-to-room, said Candy Bowen, a spokeswoman for St. Vincent's Health System, which operates the Riverside Avenue extended-care facility.

James Jenkins, principal tubist with the Jacksonville Symphony Orchestra and member of the Riverside Fine Arts board, developed the program as a way of using the therapeutic power of art.

Jenkins said his father, who suffered from diabetes, spent the last seven years of his life in various health-care facilities. Sometimes Jenkins would visit after rehearsals, tuba in tow. If dad insisted, he would play a tune. He often was asked by staff or patients to do an encore in other rooms.

"That made me realize there could be a need for this," he said. "I did some research and found there were programs around the country that were having a positive impact using the power of art. It makes a very stressful situation less stressful, not only for the patients but for the staff."

And while some Jacksonville health care institutions periodically bring in performing artists, Jenkins said, there's nothing regularly involving the entire arts community.

So far, St. Catherine's patients said they like what they've heard.

During one program last month, a violinist and violist from the symphony went room-to-room, playing for patients who aren't mobile.

"One man who doesn't come out of his room said it made a difference in his day, and he was so appreciative," said Teresa Butts, St. …

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