AHA! Celebrates 2015

2015 was a year of piloting programs, exploring funding options and models, hosting workshops and playshops and celebrating local history.

We were delighted in early 2015 to transition the music therapy position that we had piloted for 14 months in 2013-2014 to first GASHA, then to the new Nova Scotia Health Authority.  Tom Curry continues his work both at SMRH and in the local high schools.  Noella Murphy also continued her visual arts programming with both inpatient and outpatient Mental Health Units prior to her return to school in the fall of 2015.

Workshops included inspiring weekends with Sheree Fitch delving into the healing power of story and poetry and with Rose Adams in bringing out our inner artist. For the second time, we hosted Natalie Abdou in her moving performance, Sitting with Death. In November, an afternoon of playshops with several local artists was great fun for all participants, who explored everything from horticulture to music, from playing with wire and paint, to writing and storytelling. We were also able to support two local musicians in attending the Room 217 Music Care Certification Course in PEI during the same month.

A highlight of the summer and fall of 2015 was the participatory musical theatre production, 1784: (Un)settling Antigonish, that transported participants to 1784 and the story of the first European settlers in the Antigonish area, showing the perspectives of diverse cultures. Co-supported by the Heritage Association of Antigonish, written by Dorothy Lander, with an intergenerational and multicultural cast and creative team, this was a delightful exploration of a story not so well known. The team is currently trying to raise funds to create a film and educational resources related to this experience and history.

AHA! piloted two new positions in 2015. The first was for a musician in the Antigonish Education Centre, working with individuals and groups to improve wellbeing through musical engagement. Jeremy Holmes quickly showed the immense value of music to youth wellbeing and we are delighted that this pilot has been expanded in 2016 to six months, five days a week, in all local Elementary Schools and at SAJS, supported not only by AHA!, but also by Public Health, Schools Plus and the local School Board.

The second pilot began in October of 2015 and was a six-month Expressive Arts Therapy position, shared by the St Martha’s Regional Hospital and the community. Kimberley Williams worked two days each week at SMRH and two days at the RK MacDonald Nursing Home, L’Arche Antigonish Hearts and Hands and Paqtnkek Youth Centre, all of whom felt her presence was nurturing and positive.

AHA! released two videos in 2015, both by local filmmaker, Corinne Dunphy. The first celebrated the value of the work of music therapist Tom Curry in the hospital, and the second celebrated the value of the Eldertree Project.

AHA! had its first fundraising endeavor in 2015, launching Colouring Antigonish in November, with contributions from local artists. This was tremendously successful and well supported by the community. In response to further requests from artists to participate in this project, we are in the process of creating Volume 2, to be released soon!

Colouring Antigonish with Arts Health Antigonish and local artis
Colouring Antigonish with Arts Health Antigonish and local artists

Arts Health Antigonish offers their heartfelt thanks to those in the community who are supporting our work in myriad ways, through participation, partnerships and funding. We sincerely appreciate your help in making this work and these programs possible. Newcomers are always welcome at our table. Please contact us at artshealthantigonish@gmail.com