“I don’t like to say that art cures, although sometimes they insist that it does; but obviously it has power over our spirit, it produces satisfaction, and that’s what we intend to take to the hospitals. Without falling into the goodness, because we know that you choose to go to an art gallery, but the hospital is a place where you are obliged to go”. The speaker is Beatriz Lucea, one of the founders of Believe in Art. This art historian is one of the visible faces, together with María Luisa Grau and Marisa Vela, of this non-profit association that is committed to the art-health binomial, common in the Anglo-Saxon world: “It was born out of our concern, of wanting to give back to society what it had given us through art. We wondered what we could contribute as cultural professionals and, as no NGO fitted what we needed, we created it ourselves,” she explains.
The center asks us to intervene in an area, we go to see it, we evaluate it aesthetically and, very importantly, we talk to the team that works there so that they can give us their perceptions and tell us what ailments are treated there, what it is used for, the age of the patients… With that, María Luisa and I select the artists we think are most suitable and we propose the collaboration to them”.
The answer is always the same, a yes, because the project excites both those who see it and those who do it. “The artist proposes a sketch that we approve, then the medical team reviews it and when they give the ok, we plan the logistics to generate the least possible discomfort”.
Art as part of the recovery process
Perhaps Beatriz is right and art does not cure, but certainly the artistic interventions they have promoted in children’s hospital rooms or waiting rooms have helped those who have gone through them, something that is confirmed by those who work there: “The health workers insist that the emotional state is very important for the patient, and that art plays a fundamental role in improving it. Until now the patient was treated from a very scientific and medical point of view, but now it has become clear that it is also important to take care of the spirit, both of the patient and his or her relatives and of the workers who attend to them”.
This opinion is also shared by the protagonists of this initiative, i.e. those who occupy the decorated spaces, as Beatriz recalls: “The illustrator David Guirao collaborated with us by painting a room for children suffering from cancer, and he showed the result in his talks at schools. In one of them, a boy raised his hand and told her that he had been in it for a year. They chatted for a while and the boy thanked her because the room had helped him to dream better”.
The importance of volunteers
Believe in Art continues to move forward thanks to the efforts of its volunteers: “It would be impossible to have done what we have done and to have grown so fast without the generosity of the artists, but the project would not be viable without the volunteers. A diverse group in terms of age, professions… who help us in everything we need, from moving paintings to making a marketing plan”, Beatriz points out.
Thanks to the work of the whole team, they have decorated spaces in the Miguel Servet Maternity Hospital, including its façade, the Lozano Blesa University Clinic or the Royo Villanova Hospital in Zaragoza; also in the San Jorge Hospital in Huesca or the Alcañiz Hospital. They focus mainly on healthcare centers, although they have also intervened in some areas of the Zaragoza Juvenile Court: “We make exceptions when we have something to contribute, and they explained to us that the level of stress in that place is very high. In situations like that, we also want to help make the space more humane”.
In addition to artistic interventions, Believe in Art has promoted other art-related projects such as ‘Ole mi cole’, in which children help to plan and paint the health centers of which they are users; or ‘Tú pintas mucho’, to promote and facilitate Corporate Social Responsibility through art in small companies and self-employed workers. The pandemic forced it to be paralyzed, but they hope to recover it next spring.
They also present the ‘Corazón de Oro’ awards, a very important moment for the association, according to Beatriz: “On the one hand we have the possibility of bringing together a lot of people who normally do not have time to do so, but it also serves to celebrate the achievements we have made together, thank people for their work and tell the forecasts for the following year”.
The last presentation of these awards took place on November 6 and the winner was the journalist and presenter Sandra Sabatés.
The trajectory of Believe in Art since its inception has been dazzling, the large number of artistic interventions or illustrators who have joined the project, or the fact of having a waiting list for their collaboration is something to be proud of. And the people in charge are proud of it. Although Beatriz assures that what they celebrate most is “the welcome we have had, the affection we have received. Feeling that the project belongs more and more to the city and the people feel it as their own”.
For the future they hope to be able to continue to count on the support of artists, healthcare professionals and patients, and also to take their work beyond Aragon: “We know that in Spain there is no project like this one, based on art and sustained over time. Our dream is to take it, and with it the name of Zaragoza and Aragon, all over the country and, why not, also abroad. We have no frontiers”.