AHA! 2019 Report

Arts Health Antigonish (AHA!) 2019 Report                                    February 26, 2020

2020 marks our 8th year bringing arts-health programming to the Antigonish community. In beginning this exploration in 2013, we did a lot of brainstorming, trying to identify gaps, offering a variety of programs, exploring funding avenues and supporting local artists. As John used to like saying, ‘there was no “ideas deficit”’! Since then, our programming has taken greater shape as we have identified the greatest need as being with those people in our community with less access to the arts – those in transition, new to our community, isolated, lonely, or in care facilities. Our programs with these populations have time and again, shown that engagement in the arts can make us healthier, both individually and as a community.

In 2019, we offered 4 programs and undertook a research project, hiring 12 artists for part time or contractual work, reaching over 1000 folks across the lifespan. More than a dozen volunteers supported our work. We brought almost $97,000 in grant funding and donations to the community, most of that going directly to artists.

We once again hosted programs not only in Antigonish, but also in surrounding counties, taking Arts Canopy workshops to Pictou and Inverness Counties, with programs now running in both places, facilitated by local artists.  We continued to offer programs locally, at the RK, Parkland, and Highland Crest. We are now offering Arts Canopy in the community through VON day programs both in Antigonish and Pictou Counties. We partnered with Ann and Katie at St.FX, in summarizing the evaluations of Arts Canopy programs.

We also forged some great partnerships in 2019. AHA! joined ACALA and Theatre Antigonish, in hosting The Shoe Project, celebrating the stories of local immigrant women. Partnering with the County of Antigonish, ACA, and the town library, we reacquainted youth with nature through Spellbound by Nature. Our photography project contract was renewed at St. Martha’s and Rachel continued to offer Art Care at the hospital. More about these programs is coming in the individual reports given by those who so effectively created, coordinated and facilitated them.

AHA! hosted two workshops for caregivers, facilitated by Maureen St Clair, on Compassionate Listening. We also attempted to host community playshops in November, but unfortunately had to cancel those. However, materials have now arrived for a kite making playshop with Rachel and we are again hoping to offer a baking workshop with the StFX Dept. Nutrition. Watch for both later this spring!

Again, my deepest gratitude to all those who participated in AHA! programs in any way: participants, facilitators, coordinators, volunteers. And heartfelt thanks to the AHA! team, who behind the scenes helped with logistics, payroll, grant writing, communications, and in numerous other ways supported this incredible movement.

Liz Brennan, Chair, AHA!

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