In every crisis, it often seems that the first to arrive to help are healthcare workers and artists. This was most recently true during the pandemic, and it is increasingly true as the consequences of climate change become more apparent. Human caused climate change has created an existential threat to life on this planet and has dramatically altered our health and wellbeing as well as our conception of ourselves and our place in the world. It is in this spirit that we have called together care providers and artists across genres and geographies who recognize the relationship between planetary and human health. Health care providers are prescribing nature visits to increase vitality and reduce stress and anxiety. Artists are using the transformative power of the arts to promote awareness, dialogue, imaginative action, and a sense of reconnection. This conversation for Our Planet, Our Health brings us into a fuller, sensory immersion of the reciprocal relationship between care for our planet and ourselves.
Christopher Bailey, Arts + Health Lead, WHO
Dr Nisha Sajnani, Founding Co-Director of the Arts + Health @ NYU (Curator)
Cecil Scheib, Chief Sustainability Officer, NYU
Renée Fleming, Soprano
Dr Melissa Lem, Director of PaRx, BC Parks Foundation
Modisana Mabale, Performance artist and director, Street Arts Government
Jave Yoshimoto, Visual artist and art therapist
Chantal Bilodeau, Director, Arts and Climate initiative
Christopher Bailey (Switzerland)
Christopher Bailey is the Arts & Health lead at the World Health Organization, based in in Geneva, Switzerland. His program focuses on the research agenda, community implementation and mobilizing the global media to explore, understand and support the health benefits of the arts, in everyday life as well as an instrument in the field. Educated at Columbia and Oxford Universities, as well at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts, before entering Global Health and Philanthropy, Bailey was a professional actor and playwright. He is presently engaged heavily in using the arts in the COVID-19 global response.
Chantal Bilodeau (Canada/United States of America)
Chantal Bilodeau is a playwright and translator originally from Tiohtiáke/Montreal, now based in New York City, the traditional land of the Lenape People. In her capacity as artistic director of the Arts & Climate Initiative, she has been instrumental in getting the theatre and academic communities, as well as audiences in the U.S. and abroad, to engage in climate action. In addition to curating HowlRound Theatre Commons’s blog series, Theatre in the Age of Climate Change, she has written for American Theatre Magazine, Canadian Theatre Review, the Center for Energy and Environmental Research in the Human Sciences, Future Earth, and the World Policy Institute.
Renée Fleming (United States of America)
Renée Lynn Fleming is an American soprano, known for performances in opera, concerts, recordings, theater, film, and at major public occasions. A recipient of the National Medal of Arts, Fleming has been nominated for 17 Grammy Awards and has won four times. Her latest album is entitled Voice of Nature: The Anthropocene, a collaboration with Canadian conductor and pianist Yannick Nézet-Séguin. Inspired by the solace Fleming found while hiking near her Virginia home during lockdown, the album explores the centrality of nature in Romantic-era song and highlights the peril and fragility of the natural world today.
Dr Melissa Lem (Canada)
Dr Melissa Lem is a Vancouver family physician who also works in rural and remote communities across Canada. President-elect of the Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment, and Director of Parks Prescriptions for the BC Parks Foundation, she is a passionate advocate for the health benefits of time spent in nature. A senior writer for the CBC, she was the resident medical expert on CBC-TV’s hit lifestyle show Steven and Chris for four seasons and continues to educate diverse audiences on air. Her work has also been published by the Vancouver Sun, Toronto Star, Montreal Gazette, The Narwhal and National Observer. She was the inaugural winner of University College’s Young Alumni of Influence Award at the University of Toronto, and is a Clinical Assistant Professor at the University of British Columbia.
Modisana Mabale (South Africa)
Modisana Mabale is an independent theatre maker, street performer, writer, and facilitator who believes that African indigenous knowledge can help us explore possible solutions for our planet. He is the director of Street Arts Government based in Sharpeville which uses public spaces as the main platforms of creative arts interventions that have led to community participation in clean up campaigns and the establishment of recreational parks. Mabale’s play Lehe la Kganyapa, which engages children in African indigenous mythologies to address global warming challenges, won the Assitej African playwriting competition for theatre for young audiences in 2020. Mabale holds a Diploma in Drama from Tshwane University of Technology, an Honors Degree in Applied Drama & Theatre Studies (Wits University), and a certificate in Performing Arts from Movie Tech Film & Television College.
Dr Nisha Sajnani (Canada/United States of America)
Dr Nisha Sajnani, RDT-BCT (Curator), is the Director of the Program in Drama Therapy and Founding Co-Director of the Arts and Heath at New York University. She is also on faculty with NYU Abu Dhabi where she developed a trans-disciplinary course entitled Can Art Save Lives? In her capacity as Chair of the NYU Creative Arts Therapies Consortium and International Research Alliance, she leads a commission to map the evidence for the physical, mental, and social health benefits of the arts and arts therapies for the World Health Organization. An award winning author, educator, artist, and advocate, her body of work explores the unique ways in which aesthetic experience can inspire care and collective human flourishing across the lifespan.
Cecil Scheib (United States of America)
Cecil returned to NYU as Chief Sustainability Officer in 2018, after five years as Chief Program Officer at Urban Green Council and Managing Director of the Building Resiliency Task Force for the City of New York. As Director of Energy and Sustainability at NYU from 2007 to 2012, Cecil was intimately involved in guiding NYU towards environmental excellence, leading efforts related to the co-gen plant, the Green Grants Program, 30% emissions reductions, greater solid waste diversion rates, weaving sustainability into our procurement, and drafting NYU’s Climate Action Plan. Cecil co-founded Dancing Rabbit Ecovillage; is a New York State licensed professional engineer; and is a Certified Energy Manager and LEED Accredited Professional. He serves on the Board of Directors of Urban Green Council.
Jave Yoshimoto (Japan / United States of America)
Yoshimoto has received his Bachelors from University of California Santa Barbara in Studio Art, his Post-baccalaureate Certificate in Painting and Drawing and Masters of Art in Art Therapy at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, and his Masters of Fine Arts in Painting at Syracuse University. Yoshimoto has been published on multiple publications and websites, received a letter of recognition from the United Nations, awarded the Joan Mitchell Foundation’s Painters and Sculptors Grant in 2015 and exhibited works nationally and internationally. He currently teaches studio art courses at University of Nebraska at Omaha. website: www.javeyoshimoto.com. IG: @javebrave
Waiting Water – Samoa – New Zealand
Award-winning poet and indigenous climate change activist Aigagalefili Fepulea’i Tapua’i is a Samoan-New Zealander who speaks about the dual impact of racism and climate change. The story of her climate activism is documented in the film High Tide Don’t Hide.
The Arctic Melt – Arctic
After years documenting the impacts of the climate crisis, photographer Diane Tuft journeyed to the north to show how the Arctic is both beautiful and changing.
Environmental Art Festival – Zimbabwe
Every year in Southeastern Zimbabwe, members of an agriculture based community known as the Ndau gather for an arts festival to celebrate their indigenous culture and promote the preservation of the environment.
For Seasons – Germany
The climate has changed significantly since Vivaldi’s “Four Seasons”. The project “For Seasons”, created by the NDR Elbphilharmonie Orchestra, musicologists and creative coders, makes this audible.
Sun and Sea – Lithuania
Sun & Sea is an opera by Lithuanian artists Rugilė Barzdžiukaitė, Vaiva Grainytė and Lina Lapelytė, set on an indoor beach. In their songs, performers warn of climate change and impending ecological disasters. The work was awarded the Golden Lion at the Venice Biennale 2019.
My planet now – United Kingdom
My Planet Now is a global cinematic feature documentary that will tell the global story of the climate crisis in a uniquely human way by inviting ordinary citizens from around the world to film and share their personal stories of their relationship to the planet and their experience of climate change, using smartphones.
“Earthrise” – United States of America
Inspired by the iconic photo of the Earth rising over the surface of the Moon taken by Apollo 8 astronauts, Amanda Gorman wrote a poem called Earthrise about the climate emergency and the action we must take to end it.
Dancing Earth – occupied Tewa and Ohlone territory (United States of America)
Dancing Earth creates contemporary dance and related arts through global-Indigenous and intercultural relationships centered in ecological and cultural diversity for creativity, health, and wellness.