Improving health, safety of workers in the arts in Cuba

A group of about 25 people — including some UIC students, faculty and physicians — traveled to Cuba Feb. 3 to help improve the health and safety of workers in the arts.

The participants from UIC’s Health in the Arts Program will be in Cuba until Feb. 10 to dedicate their time, skills and knowledge to reducing health hazards and problems of underserved workers in the performing and visual arts. They will participate in morning lectures from global experts, then work in the field in places such as the Danza Contemporánea de Cuba, the Orquesta Buena Vista Social Club and more.

The Health in the Arts program began in 1999 in the UIC School of Public Health, said co-director David Hinkamp. It serves arts workers internationally with health concerns caused by their work, such as exposure to toxic materials, repetitive motion disorders or other hazardous physical conditions.

“Many of the people in the arts often lack health insurance,” Hinkamp said. “So a lot of these people have no access to health care.”

For the past seven years, the Health in the Arts program has organized a trip to Cuba to help health care workers and artists recognize health hazards and better prevent and treat occupational disorders.

“[Health in the Arts Program] is a good introduction for people who don’t have a background in this area but are interested in learning about it,” Hinkamp said. “Research projects, publications, service projects and more have all come out of this trip.

“It’s rewarding to be able to work with those people so that they can remain healthy and productive throughout their lives.”

Those interested in joining the program can email Hinkamp at

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