Collectively, we celebrate the transformative power of creativity. As advocates, we recognize the importance of linking the arts to economic and health outcomes. And while considerable research has been done to measure these extensive, positive effects, it is essential to work together to deepen these insights for the sake of a continuously thriving arts and culture sector.

The Arts + Health Symposium, powered by the Regional Arts Commission of St. Louis (RACSTL), gathers arts leaders and healthcare professionals to share knowledge on pressing topics and present actionable data on the relationship between the arts and health. Attendees will learn from medical and neural researchers who explore the effects of creativity on the body and mind as well as hear from local arts agency leaders, who seek to grow the sector with this information.


  • WHEN:
    October 21 & 22, 2024
  • WHERE:
    21c Museum Hotel St. Louis
    (Link to book hotel sent after registering)
    About the Venue  |  View Map
  • COST:
    $250 per attendee
    (meals + refreshments included)
    Opens Monday, June 17


While content will appeal primarily to arts & culture leaders (including c-suite, development, communications and program staff) and medical and healthcare professionals, all people with intersecting interests are welcome.


There is not widespread knowledge about the effects of the arts on individual and collective wellbeing. While anecdotes are prevalent, many are not aware that arts participation has been used in clinical trials and neurological studies.


This symposium will provide leaders operating in the arts and medical sectors important data on health outcomes of arts participation. Information shared will help inform program development, implementation and evaluation.



1:00 PM - Bethany Johnson-Javois



SPEAKER INFORMATION: Bethany Johnson-Javois

Rev. Bethany Johnson-Javois, MSW (she/her) is a health and racial justice advocate dedicated to the improved health and well-being of the people of the Greater St. Louis region and Southern Illinois. She is President & CEO of Deaconess Foundation, Pastor of Monument of Faith Church, Inc., former CEO of the St. Louis Integrated Health Network (IHN), and former Managing Director for the Ferguson Commission.


Bethany returns to Deaconess Foundation as President & CEO after having formerly served on the Foundation’s Board of Trustees. Devoted to the Deaconess mission and guided by faith, Bethany leads the Foundation in its continued pursuit of the improved health of the Metropolitan St. Louis and Southern Illinois communities and its people through philanthropy, advocacy, and organizing for racial equity and policy change.


Bethany formerly served as the CEO of the St. Louis Integrated Health Network (IHN), a position she held for 12 years. She led the health intermediary nonprofit in serving the region’s safety net health care providers and the local community to promote the mission of providing quality, affordable, accessible care to all residents of Metropolitan St. Louis, with an emphasis on the medically underserved. Her leadership in the healthcare sector has garnered notable recognition including being selected by Mental Health America of Eastern Missouri as a Silver Bell Award recipient for her outstanding community service, leadership, vision, and values, and being selected as St. Louis Children’s Hospital Community Advocate of the Year. She was selected by the St. Louis Business Journal to be in the class of Diverse Business Leaders and received the Access to Equal Justice Award from the Washington University School of Law’s Clinical Education Program. Under her leadership, the IHN was chosen as The St. Louis American Advocacy Organization of the Year.


She possesses over 20 years of experience rolling-up-her-sleeves working and volunteering in the nonprofit and philanthropic sectors focused on equalizing the quality of life for under-resourced, yet vibrant people. Bethany’s expertise lies in creating systems change infrastructure and developing tactical strategies that increase responsiveness and equity for the people for whom our public systems are accountable to serve. As pastor at Monument of Faith, Inc. with the gift of evangelism, she is a noted motivational speaker, trainer, and facilitator around purpose leadership and spiritual development.


Notably, Bethany was named the Managing Director for the Ferguson Commission in 2015. The Ferguson Commission, an independent, volunteer group appointed by Missouri Governor Jay Nixon, was charged with addressing the underlying root causes that led to community unrest in the wake of Michael Brown’s death. After a comprehensive study that included extensive community engagement, the Commission published an unflinching report of its findings and 189 calls to action that charted a new path toward healing and positive change for the residents of the St. Louis region.

4:00 PM - The Colorado Resiliency Arts Lab (CORAL): Alleviating the Healthcare Professional Burnout Crisis with Creative Arts Therapy | Marc Moss, MD

PRESENTATION DESCRIPTION: Our research group was one of the first to identify the epidemic of psychological distress in healthcare providers including anxiety, depression post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and burnout syndrome (BOS). With funding from the National Endowment for the Arts in 2018, we created the Colorado Resiliency Arts Lab (CORAL): a vibrant and collaborative creative arts therapy (CAT) community committed to enhancing healthcare professional well-being and alleviating their psychological stress. In this session, I will describe our CAT programs (including video presentations), discuss the results of our randomized trials and qualitative research, and engage in a vibrant question and answer session.



Marc Moss is the Roger S. Mitchell Professor of Medicine in the Division of Pulmonary Sciences and Critical Care Medicine at the University of Colorado School of Medicine. Dr. Moss has a longstanding interest in critical care-related research, and he has held continuous NIH funding as a Principal Investigator for over 20 consecutive years. More specifically, Dr. Moss’s research interests include identifying new treatment modalities for patients with the Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome (ARDS), exploring the diagnosis and treatment of neuromuscular dysfunction (including swallowing dysfunction) in critically ill patients who require mechanical ventilation, and studying burnout syndrome, post-traumatic stress disorder, and wellness in healthcare professionals. He was the invited keynote speaker at the National Academy of Medicine’s Action Collaborative on Clinician Well-being and Resilience. Dr. Moss’ research on wellness was initially funded by the NIH and is currently funded by the National Endowment of the Arts. He also served as the President of the American Thoracic Society from 2017-2018.



9:00 AM - Brain and Art: The Neuroscience of Aesthetic Appreciation | Oshin Vartanian

PRESENTATION DESCRIPTION: There has been increasing interest in understanding the ways in which our brain supports aesthetic appreciation, including our interactions with art. In this presentation I will draw on neuroscientific studies in the domains of visual art, music, dance and architecture to demonstrate that the emergence of aesthetic appreciation is impacted by a wide host of perceptual, cognitive, emotional, societal, and contextual factors. Furthermore, I will argue that a small set of neural systems underpin the integration of these factors to facilitate aesthetic experiences.



Oshin Vartanian received his Ph.D. in Psychology from the University of Maine. He is a Defense Scientist at Defense Research and Development Canada, and an Adjunct Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychology at the University of Toronto. He is the co-editor of Neuroaesthetics (2009), Neuroscience of Decision Making (2011), and Neuroscience of Creativity (2016). He is the Editor of Empirical Studies of the Arts and serves on the editorial boards of Creativity Research Journal, Thinking Skills and Creativity, and Psychology of Aesthetics, Creativity, and the Arts. He is the recipient of the Daniel E. Berlyne Award from Division 10 of the American Psychological Association for outstanding research by a junior scholar for his work on the neuroscience of creativity and aesthetics.

11:00 AM - Building Healthier Communities Through the Arts | Randy Cohen

PRESENTATION DESCRIPTION: The public’s investment in arts and culture does more than create livable communities. The arts are a humanizing force in society that extends to the healthcare environment—affecting both healthcare workers and the people in their care. Throughout this symposium, attendees have learned how art improves the health and well-being of individuals and the communities in which we live. As we close, national arts leader, Randy Cohen, VP of Research at Americans for the Arts, will offer a fun and inspiring wrap-up session about how Arts and Culture Builds: better health, greater social cohesion, and more unified communities. Attendees will walk away with the knowledge and advocacy tools making them a resource that decision-makers look to for years to come.



Randy Cohen is Vice President of Research at Americans for the Arts—the national advocacy organization for the arts—where he has been empowering arts advocates since 1991. Cohen is known for balancing rigorous research methods with accessible and actionable results. His work at Americans for the Arts has provided new perspectives on the nonprofit arts. He recently published Arts & Economic Prosperity 6: The Economic Impact of Nonprofit Arts & Culture Organizations and their Audiences and Americans Speak Out About the Arts in 2023, a national public opinion study about the arts. Randy led the development of The National Arts Index, the annual measure of the health and vitality of arts in the U.S. and the National Arts Policy Roundtable, an annual convening of leaders who focus on the advancement of American culture—launched in partnership with Robert Redford and the Sundance Institute. He is the 2024 recipient of the Sidney Yates Advocacy Award for outstanding advocacy on behalf of the performing arts in America. His 10 Reasons to Support the Arts blog received the Gold Award from the Association of Media & Publishing—their top honor for best blog post of the year. A sought-after speaker, Randy has given speeches in all 50 states, and regularly appears in the news media—including the Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, and on C-SPAN, CNN, CNBC, and NPR.

Details on Concurrent Sessions, Arts Experiences & Performances coming soon.

Contemporary Art is the Core of 21c

The 21c Museum Hotel reimagines a historic St. Louis fixture: the 10-story, Renaissance Revival-style YMCA building. Located in the heart of downtown St. Louis, this awe-inspiring property is dedicated to collecting and exhibiting art of the 21st century.

Meals & Refreshments Included

Monday, October 21
Serving lunch, afternoon coffee/tea, networking cocktail bar and dinner
Tuesday, October 22
Serving breakfast and afternoon coffee/tea


RACSTL has done considerable research to measure the effects of the arts. In 2023, the organization presented the Arts and Economic Prosperity 6: Greater St. Louis, a report on the economic impact of the arts. At the same time, RACSTL shared findings from Creatives Count, a study of the St. Louis regions creatives, which, among other things, provided insights on the number of insured artists, the kind of coverage they have, and the means through which they secured that coverage. While both studies are enlightening, the work to more fully understand the local arts and culture landscape as it relates to its impact on the health of the region continues.


St. Louis is an arts town. With more than 30 theaters and theatre companies, 40 music venues and 50 galleries and museums, there are always opportunities to uncover the unordinary and experience everything this astonishing arts and culture scene has to offer during your visit.
St. Louis is an arts town. With more than 30 theaters and theatre companies, 40 music venues and 50 galleries and museums, there are always opportunities to uncover the unordinary and experience everything this astonishing arts and culture scene has to offer during your visit.


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