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Arts Health Antigonish (AHA!) 2018 Report 

Arts Health Antigonish (AHA!) 2018 Report
February 27, 2019

Early 2018 marked five years of AHA! bringing arts for health programming to the Antigonish Community. When we began in 2013, we decided to stay informal, to explore the need for such a movement in our community. Now six years later, we know there is a need. Our programs have time and again, shown that engagement in the arts can make us healthier, both individually and as a community. Therefore, in 2018, we decided to become more formal and registered as a not for profit society.

In 2018, we hosted 7 different programs, hiring 20 artists for part time or contractual work, reaching 750-1000 folks across the lifespan. About 25-30 volunteers supported our work. We brought $75,000 in grant funding and donations to the community, most of that going directly to our artists. 

2018 saw us take our programs farther afield, with Musical Pathways in Richmond County, Sherbrooke and Paq’tnkek, and Arts Canopy in care facilities in New Glasgow as well as locally. We embarked on our first collaborative project with a national organization, The Shoe Project, which is also our first project with immigrant women. We shared our Arts Canopy learnings at the Provincial Alzheimer’s Society Conference in October. John and Dorothy began their own publishing endeavour, HARP publishing, creating and publishing ‘The People’s Photo Album’. Janette wrote an article about AHA! for the Muse Magazine, an interprofessional publication of McMaster University. Our research project with St.F.X. in 2017 led to a publication in 2018 in the Canadian Journal of Adult Education.

We continued to offer Art Care at St Martha’s and created a program of local photographers’ work for televisions at the hospital. Musical Pathways, offering music to youth out of school time, showed the immense value of music to learning, especially to social and emotional skill development. During November, Arts Health Month, we offered a series of AHA! workshops to the community.

Thanks to the Federal Government’s New Horizons for Seniors Grant, we were able to continue and expand Arts Canopy, taking it to different venues and trying new art forms: storytelling, movement, dance, improv. Story booklets were created for participants and an improv show celebrated that program. A sound installation is in development, sharing the joy these programs bring to those living with dementia.  We are creating a book for caregivers based on Arts Canopy programs.

Further details of these programs are in the reports of those so effectively created, coordinated and facilitated them. But as you can see, our year was full, rich and rewarding!  Read more in the links to individual program reports:

In celebration of Arts Health Month in November, 2018, AHA! hosted a series of participatory workshops, entitled AHA! Tuesdays.

My heartfelt gratitude to all those who participated in AHA! programs in any way: participants, facilitators, coordinators, volunteers. And a sincere thank you to the AHA! team, who behind the scenes helped with logistics, payroll, grant writing, communications, and the myriad of other ways you supported this vital movement. I am deeply grateful to you all.

Respectfully,
Chair, AHA!

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