In 1997 the Artists’ Health Centre Foundation (AHCF) was formed by a group of artists with the goal of creating an affordable, specialized health care facility for artists in Toronto. As a result, the Al & Malka Green Artists’ Health Centre opened its doors at Toronto Western Hospital in November 2002, the Joysanne Sidimus subsidy fund in support of artists’ care at the Al & Malka Green Artists’ Health Centre was established in 2004, and educational programs focused on artists’ health were formalized in 2008. The AHCF transitioned to become a multidisciplinary artists’ support organization in 2012, renamed the Artists’ Health Alliance.
The Artists’ Health Alliance is the only organization in Canada that provides health and wellness support for artists of all disciplines in all stages of their careers, including those behind the scenes. The Artists’ Health Alliance is at the forefront of community responsiveness, providing health promotion and injury prevention through education, research, and subsidized treatment. As first responders in artists’ health and wellness, the Artists’ Health Alliance is the foundation of and catalyst for interventions in artists’ health that encompass the individual artist, the circle of care available to the artist, and the systemic issues faced by artists in Canadian society.
To ensure the needs of the artistic community are being met, the Artists’ Health Alliance works in partnership with The Al & Malka Green Artists’ Health Centre at Toronto Western Hospital, provides subsidies through the Joysanne Sidimus Fund, creates comprehensive Education & Outreach Programs, conducts ongoing Needs Assessment surveys, and works with a multidisciplinary Artists’ Committee to evaluate and assess program effectiveness and organizational values.
To empower artists of all disciplines with accessible, innovative, and integrative healthcare, so they may enrich our society.
The mission of the Artists’ Health Alliance is to provide leadership in health advocacy, offer health and wellness education for artists of all disciplines, support artists’ use of specialized arts medicine and integrative healthcare, promote state-of-the-art research, and act as a catalyst for advancing the health and wellbeing of our artistic community.
In 1994, a group of Toronto artists met at the request of Joysanne Sidimus, Founder and Executive Director of the Dancer Transition Resource Centre to investigate the possibility of creating a specialized health care facility for creative and performing professional artists. The impetus for the project was a unanimous frustration with the cost and lack of appropriate health care for artists. The project grew into the Artists’ Health Centre Foundation (now the Artists’ Health Alliance).
In 1995, an extensive needs assessment survey was conducted in the Toronto area concerning the health care needs of artists. At the same time, research was conducted into other known artists’ clinics including centres in San Francisco, London, The Hague, and New York City. The information gathered confirmed the need for an integration of complementary and conventional medical health services, as well as research in the field of artists’ healthcare, and subsidies for alternative therapies.
The initiative was referred to the Healthy Connections program at Toronto Western Hospital within the University Health Network, and it was there that The Al & Malka Green Artists’ Health Centre (Centre) found its home, opening in November, 2002.
The creation of The Al and Malka Green Artists’ Health Centre was a labour of love for the visionary people who brought it into being; the board of the Artists’ Health Centre Foundation (now the Artists’ Health Alliance) and the directorship of the University Health Network. It would have been impossible without the contributions of the many people who could easily have put their money elsewhere, above all Al and Malka Green.
The Artists’ Health Centre Foundation (now the Artists’ Health Alliance) remained active throughout the process of opening The Al & Malka Green Artists’ Health Centre.
Two seminars were held before the space was officially opened (one for artists, the other for practitioners). In 2003, three more seminars held in the Al & Malka Green Artists’ Health Centre space at Toronto Western Hospital presented speakers familiar with the issues and injuries of artists, dealing with techniques and resources available to artists within the community. Since then, numerous clinics, seminars and workshops have been presented and Artists’ Health Alliance continues to be an active partner in recommendations for the Al & Malka Green Artists’ Health Centre, as well as education and outreach programs and management of the Joysanne Sidimus subsidy fund, established in 2004.
“We push the boundaries of what we should do. And because of that, because we’re passionate about what we do, injuries occur.”