Chicago launches job training program to merge arts, wellness for creative workers

ByRamona Meadors WLS logo
Sunday, September 17, 2023
Training program launches to merge arts, wellness for creative workers
The City of Chicago announced the launch of the Chicago Arts & Health Pilot for Creative Workers, an innovative paid job training program.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- The City of Chicago announced the launch of the Chicago Arts & Health Pilot for Creative Workers, an innovative paid job training program that seeks to bridge the realms of arts, health, healing, and wellness. Funded through the American Rescue Plan (ARP) federal funds, the program will pay artists to apprentice in community clinics and become certified community health workers to amplify the proven benefits of arts engagement in fostering holistic recovery, well-being, and social cohesion in communities.

The program is a collaborative effort between the following organizations:

  • The City of Chicago's Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events (DCASE) - Lead project administrator supporting overall program design and implementation
  • The Chicago Department of Public Health (CDPH) - Core project collaborator, supporting program design participation of CDPH mental health centers
  • City Colleges of Chicago - Provider of artist training and community health worker (CHW) certification
  • One Nation/One Project - National partner providing research, evaluation, technical assistance, creative support, and peer networking opportunities across all 18 participating municipal and community partner sites

"The Chicago Arts & Health Pilot for Creative Workers is an innovative approach to creating resilient, healthy communities and nurturing Chicago's support for the arts community," said Mayor Brandon Johnson. "I look forward to the care and healing this pilot will provide to those in need, while also allowing artists to expand and integrate their passions. Thank you to CDPH, DCASE, and City Colleges for developing the unique approach to this first of its kind program."

"This pilot validates the skills of artists who have long held health, healing, and wellness as part of their creative practice. We are thrilled about the collaboration between DCASE, CDPH, City Colleges and One Nation/One Project that has come together to provide care and health services for residents," said DCASE Commissioner Erin Harkey.

This groundbreaking initiative lays the foundation for creative collaboration between arts and health professionals to contribute to the holistic well-being of communities. The program aims to empower artists while enhancing trauma-informed and culturally responsive health services available to residents, particularly in communities disproportionately affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

"CDPH is proud to partner on this important initiative that promotes trauma-informed healing and wellness in our communities," said CDPH Acting Commissioner Fikirte Wagaw. "We're excited to see the work these amazing recipients will do in our mental health clinics and in our communities."

Ten Chicago artists have been selected for an apprenticeship award of $66,000 in salary and benefits. Each artist will spend a year apprenticing at mental health clinics in addition to completing a community health worker certification program at City Colleges of Chicago.

Apprentices will be placed in the following CDPH Mental Health Clinics: North River Clinic (North Park/Albany Park), Lawndale Clinic, Greater Grand Clinic (Bronzeville), Greater Lawn Clinic, and Englewood Clinic. Each artist will be contracted from September 2023-December 2024.

Apprentice Award Recipients are:

Chih-Jou Cheng

Natalia Cuevas

Leyda Lady Sol Garcia

Jeweline Hale

Shannon Harris

Holiday Gerry

Nile Lansana

Shalom Parker

Mecca Perry

Erica Marie Serrano

For more information about the Chicago Arts & Health Pilot for Creative Workers, please visit

This program is supported in part by federal assistance listing number 21.027 awarded to the City of Chicago by the US Treasury through the American Rescue Plan Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds. This program is also made possible in part by a grant from FGC, a Builders Initiative Foundation Entity.

DCASE is a participant in One Nation/One Project (ONOP). ONOP is a sponsored partner of the Tides Center and is funded by Anne Clarke Wolff and Ted Wolff, Barbara and Amos Hostetter, Bloomberg Philanthropies, Doris Duke Foundation, Katie McGrath & J.J. Abrams Family Foundation, The Mellon Foundation, The Tow Foundation, Sozosei Foundation, and The Robert and Mercedes Eichholz Foundation.