A Creative Approach to Addressing COVID-19 in Communities

With COVID-19 cases surging to record highs across the United States, building public confidence in vaccines is more critical than ever. However, widespread misinformation about vaccines has fueled distrust and hesitation in many of the country’s communities at greatest risk.

Organizations must find new ways to cut through skepticism and communicate information about the safety and effectiveness of vaccination. That is why the CDC Foundation is collaborating with the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) to support organizations across the country that are engaging the arts to build vaccine confidence.

With $2.5 million in funding from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the CDC Foundation is providing grants to 30 organizations to use their chosen art forms to educate their communities and encourage vaccination for COVID-19 and the seasonal flu.

You may wonder, "What kind of an impact can the arts have on a public health issue like vaccination?"

Throughout human history, art has often been used to explore and communicate complex topics—inspiring conversations and greater understanding. Local artists and culture bearers have long been viewed as trusted messengers, translating vital information to make it more understandable, personable and actionable. This remains true today—from the beginning of the pandemic, local artists and cultural organizations have communicated essential public health information within their communities.

The 30 partner organizations span 18 states, and include arts centers, public health advocates, universities, youth groups, dance companies and more. The projects they are developing are as creative as they are diverse. Narrative film, live theater, podcasts, dance performances, street art, poetry and quilting are just a few examples of the unique ways in which they will engage their communities.

By using the power of the arts in vaccine outreach, these organizations will deliver accurate, science-based information about COVID-19 and flu vaccination in innovative and engaging ways. They will create artwork that speaks directly to the concerns of their communities and inspires them to get vaccinated.

We look forward to the inspirational work these grants will fund and hope that this powerful union of art and science will help bring us a step closer to ending the COVID-19 pandemic and, critically, save lives.

Learn more.

The grants were awarded through a competitive process and are funded by the CDC Foundation. Federal funding for this effort is made possible through cooperative agreement 5 NU38OT000288-04-00 from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) totaling $2,500,000.00 with 100 percent funding from CDC/HHS.

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Rachael Casey, MPH is federal program manager for the CDC Foundation’s department of infectious disease programs.
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Ruth O’Neill is a senior communications officer for the CDC Foundation’s department of infectious disease programs.