A handful of frontline doctors and nurses who received art supplies. Not all were photographed.

Giving frontline heroes tools to make art

Bethany Halbreich
Paint the World
Published in
5 min readJun 1, 2020

Can art really make a difference during a critical time? Is art, and the process of making it, critical to our progress?

On April 28, 2020, I began a three week journey to deliver art supplies to frontline doctors and nurses across America. The trip confirmed that the answer to these questions is a resounding YES. It is time for us to take the arts seriously, and to prioritize investing in the arts as a critical tool for economic progress. Yes, I went there; There is a huge correlation between the arts and economic health.

For the past five years, I’ve run a nonprofit called Paint the World, whose mission is to make opportunity for artistic expression accessible by sprinkling the world with blank canvases. We typically secure these large blank canvases and art supplies in underserved communities around the world to not only enable a domino effect of creative confidence, but to also inspire creative problem solving. Beautiful, cohesive collaborative paintings often result (view examples here).

After speaking with a handful of hospital staff on the front-lines of the COVID19 pandemic, and learning that they’re working double time even as they experience pay cuts, it became clear that hospital employee morale is low across the board. The country has expressed appreciation for healthcare workers verbally, and has donated a ton of PPE, but we’ve left out something pretty major. It is not unknown that caring for our healthcare worker’s mental health leads to higher quality care.

And how do we care for the mental health of our frontline doctors and nurses? There are a number of low hanging fruits, but introducing simple artistic practices has the greatest ROI. It is the easiest and cheapest to implement, and it’s benefits are unmatched.