Mobilizing Creative Arts Access Equity for Post-Pandemic Flourishing in Canada
(A Participatory Action Research Approach)

Key Terms: equity; access; belonging; intergenerativity; justice; arts engagement

Lead: Andrea Charise

Dirk J. Rodricks; benjamin lee hicks; Allison Crawford; Obidi Ezezika; Naheed Dosani; Kate Mulligan; Suvetha Krishnapillai; Michelle Zhang

About the Project

The COVID-19 pandemic underscores the complex interdisciplinary realities of health and social services provision in Canada. Community engagement remains crucial to advancing prevention strategies and care delivery. For example, national vaccination efforts expanded the development of Mobile Health Units to bring access to the most acutely underserved neighbourhoods and achieve vital, short-term public health milestones in culturally sustaining ways. How might these principles of community-engaged services enhance social wellness in the post-COVID context?

Our research examines how mobile community-arts practices enhance, support, and sustain post- pandemic flourishing. We propose the development of a mobile arts unit capable of transporting materials, facilitators, and space—an incubator for collective creative engagement and social wellness. By emphasizing locally-defined definitions of value beyond individual (clinical) health measures, social wellness reframes “social determinants” of health to include community-strengthening practices like equity, access, belonging, intergenerativity, and justice. What aspects of mobile pandemic response can inspire community-engaged arts services to support post-COVID recovery across the lifecourse? Can we measure, appraise, and track a wellness typology associated with mobilizing community arts practices? In Canada, arts engagement’s potential to address systemic barriers (race-, socioeconomic-, gender-based) to health remains underexplored. Our expert team includes researchers, physicians, arts practitioners, policymakers, and non-profit partners in arts- wellness, participatory methods, social prescription, and community care. Co-constructed participatory methods (incl. virtual) will assess arts engagement as a measure of social wellness, cost-saving initiative, and method to enhance health outcomes centring social relationality. Local, provincial, and national-level policy briefings; white papers; and live demonstrations will underscore how community-based arts access facilitates social wellness as a form of post-pandemic survival and flourishing.


Charise, A. “On Applying the Arts and Humanities in Austere Times.” The Routledge Companion to Health Humanities (eds. Paul Crawford, Brian Brown, Andrea Charise). Routledge, 2020. 18-26.

Charise, A. “Resemblance, Diversity, and Making Age Studies Matter.” Chapter in Teaching Health Humanities(eds. Olivia Banner, Nathan Carlin, Thomas Cole). Oxford University Press, 2019. 188-206.

The FLOURISH Collective is supported in part by funding from the New Frontiers in Research Fund,
the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council, and the University of Toronto Connaught Fund