Established in 1993, Waterford Healing Arts Trust (WHAT) is based at University Hospital Waterford (UHW) and brings arts experiences – music, creative writing, painting – to the bedsides of patients at the hospital and other healthcare settings in the community. WHAT believes that exposure to the arts softens the healthcare environment and reduces anxiety and stress for patients, families and staff. WHAT believes the arts contribute to the wellbeing and vitality of society as a whole, including within healthcare settings, and that engaging with the arts stimulates the participant’s sense of identity and creativity. WHAT is a leader in the national development of arts and health in Ireland and manages the highly regarded resource website www.artsandhealth.ie.
The organisation operates from the WHAT Centre for Arts and Health, the first of its kind in Ireland, on the grounds of UHW, enabling the organisation to bridge its work between the acute hospital setting and the wider community. WHAT is a registered charity and is core funded by the Arts Council, HSE and Department of Social Protection.