Non-profit en­cour­ages heal­ing by bring­ing art to cancer wards

The Globe and Mail Metro (Ontario Edition) - - REPORT ON BUSINESS - PAUL WALDIE pwaldie@globe­and­

The donor Michael Wein­berg

The gift: Creat­ing Art­Works for Cancer The rea­son: To dec­o­rate hos­pi­tal cancer wards with art

As a prom­i­nent plas­tic sur­geon in Toronto, Michael Wein­berg deals with beauty and change ev­ery day. He’s also an avid art col­lec­tor and serves on the board of the McMichael Cana­dian Art Col­lec­tion.

A cou­ple of years ago, Dr. Wein­berg was treat­ing pa­tients with skin cancer and per­form­ing breast-re­con­struc­tion surg­eries when he no­ticed the stark decor of many hos­pi­tal wards. “The en­vi­ron­ment was so hos­tile, un­friendly, un­heal­ing and not trans­for­ma­tive in any way. Peo­ple go there and they feel alien­ated,” he said.

Dr. Wein­berg de­cided to do some­thing, so he con­tacted a group of friends and col­leagues in the art world. They launched Art­Works for Cancer, a non-profit or­ga­ni­za­tion that takes do­nated paint­ings, sculp­tures and pho­to­graphs and puts them up in cancer wards. So far, the group has re­ceived 600 works and they hope to col­lect 3,000. They’ve al­ready ar­ranged for sev­eral hun­dred to be hung in hos­pi­tals around the Toronto area and Dr. Wein­berg hopes to ex­pand the pro­gram across On­tario. He’s par­tic­u­lar about the types of works that can be used, stay­ing away from any­thing too ab­stract and stick­ing largely to land­scapes and still life.

He likes to think of the art as “a weapon against the suffering of cancer.” He re­called see­ing one woman in chemo­ther­apy lying qui­etly on her bed and con­tem­plat­ing one of the pieces on the wall. “If that doesn’t touch you, I’m not sure what can,” he said.

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