HARP Offers Public Apology to Women Artists Erased from Arts-in-Medicine 30-year History at Shands University of Florida

HARP The People’s Press: Getting into Good Trouble

Civil rights leader John Lewis urged us to “get into good trouble, necessary trouble.” So HARP The People’s Press must trouble Shands Hospital’s recent attempt at damage control. We’re referring to their response to our identifying multiple errors in the August issue of News-Notes that celebrated the 30-year anniversary of Arts in Medicine (AIM) at University of Florida.  By way of this posting across social media, HARP offers a public apology to the women artists that were erased from this history and so deeply hurt.


At the direction of Shands Communications, the Oct. 5 update using the same link as the original August newsletter acknowledged Dr. Mary Rockwood Lane as AIM’s co-founder. HARP was advised that this correction released Shands from publicly apologizing to Mary. The update still failed to state explicitly that Mary and John Graham-Pole co-founded AIM; they further neglected to correct other errors John had pointed out.

The lead article on AIM’s timeline still shows the rotating exhibition program as AIM’s starting point in 1990. This erases the legacy of the co-founders, whose names are absent from the timeline. And a lost opportunity: missing from the timeline is the Dr. John Graham-Pole Scholarship for Arts-in-Medicine:


The October update claims that AIM was launched in 1990 with the initial investment approved by CEO Paul Metts, matched by a Florida Division of Cultural Affairs grant. NOT! Every fundraising professional knows the essential principle of publicly acknowledging donors, including in-kind donations. And of getting it right. Mary and John ran the AIM program for the first two years with small grants that included Children’s Miracle Network and with a volunteer network of artists, all women.  It was not until 1992 that then-CEO Paul Metts recognized John and Mary’s extensive documented evidence of AIM’s success with a $50,000 annual budget, which allowed artists-in-residence to be paid for the first time.

It’s a treacherous slippery slope when the now common practice of presenting ‘alternative facts’ starts to infect our healing arts organizations.


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