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.
The Shoe Project Antigonish Immigrant Women Tell Their Stories
Press Release Antigonish—January 16, 2019
Something amazing is afoot in Antigonish! Immigrant women are telling their stories and letting us walk a mile in their shoes. This group of women, led by Anne Simpson and Laura Teasdale, are joining in a movement that is sweeping across Canada, called The Shoe Project. But what is it?
Initiated by novelist Katherine Govier, the Shoe Project began in Toronto as a way to assist immigrant women in telling their stories. It started with Katherine facilitating ten-week writing workshops followed by a drama expert organizing and leading the women in a performance at the Bata Shoe Museum. Since then, immigrant women across Canada – from Vancouver to Halifax – have been involved in Shoe Projects in their communities, with professional writers and drama specialists helping to bring the stories to the stage.
The Shoe Project Antigonish, funded by the Shoe Project and Nova Scotia’s Culture Innovation Fund, marks the first time the project has been offered in a small, rural community, yet immigrant women have inspiring stories to tell here, too. Locally sponsored by Arts Health Antigonish, in partnership with Theatre Antigonish and Antigonish County Adult Learning Association, The Shoe Project Antigonish began with a small group of women who came together for writing workshops with Simpson throughout the fall of 2018 and it will culminate in a performance at the Bauer Theatre on February 8 & 9, 2019.
When asked about the impact of the project, local coordinator and writing facilitator Simpson says, “When I went to see the Shoe Project performance in Fredericton last spring, I watched, entranced, as the women told their stories. I knew it could be done in Antigonish. It has been great: AHA! has been a wonderful sponsor and ACALA has been supportive from the beginning. We also have a theatre that brings really good community projects to the stage—Theatre Antigonish. Most of all, at the heart of this project is a group of women who wanted to explore their own stories. They’ve told me they don’t want it to end.”
It was not easy to find people brave enough to want to write and present their stories in front of an audience, but with much help from Jyotsna Jain at ACALA, a perfect group was formed. Diverse in age, experience, and native land, they were united in their trust of Simpson, a writer herself. Together they explored their voice and style of writing, while having fun and really supporting each other. The resulting stories to be presented on the Theatre Antigonish stage are touching, wise, funny and smart. Their immigration is a central theme, and each chose a pair of shoes as a jumping off point in their writing, but that is where the similarities end. The narratives are as diverse as this group of women.
To highlight the stories of these fascinating women, Laura Teasdale was brought on board as a theatre consultant. She was tasked with putting the stories together in a creative way and coaching the participants in feeling comfortable on stage and allowing their personality to shine through. Thanks to partners at Theatre Antigonish, the show will be a visual feast as well.
Andrea Boyd, Artistic Director for Theatre Antigonish says, “We are so happy to be able to include The Shoe Project in this year’s Theatre Antigonish season. This project is a powerful symbol of what community theatre is all about, and it is also a wonderful chance to celebrate and embrace our rich diversity. When Anne brought this project to our attention, I knew right away that it would be the perfect fit for us. I cannot wait to watch the show and hear all the stories by these amazing women. The show is being presented free of charge, so I hope we have a packed theatre. Come early to get your seat – It will be worth it!”
Teasdale adds, “The women range in age from 25 to 75 and hail from India, South Korea, Germany, Spain, Vietnam, the Philippines, and the Netherlands. These eight women have a unique perspective on life in Canada and why they love to call it home.” The participants are Karen Bissonnette, Renée Romero Brown, Willie Duykers, Almudena Garcia-Garcia, Anu Joshi, Jyotsna Jain, Soo Kyeong Lee, and Yen Ngoc Nguyen. And as a special treat, Simpson also engaged dancer and choreographer Liliona Quarmyne, whose dance will be her way of telling her own story of immigration from Ghana.
Yen Ngoc Nguyen, one of the participants, points out, “The project has given me an opportunity to pause, look back and re-think my whole journey to Canada. It serves as a point of reflection, enabling me to appreciate more of my effort, my growth, and my appreciation for the beauty of living in this country. I treasure the time I spent with other immigrants in this project as it has widened my understanding and perspective.”
The Shoe Project Antigonish takes place on Friday, February 8 and Saturday, February 9 at 7:30 pm at the Bauer Theatre. Admission is free. The line up will begin at 6:30, doors open at 7. Seating will be on a first come, first served basis. For information call (902) 867-3333 or email email@example.com.
As many of you know, we are undergoing some changes in how Arts Health Antigonish (AHA!) is organized. It was a team decision over a year ago to pursue charitable status for AHA!, with the hope that we could become more sustainable through hiring staff and attracting donors to sustain our work.
We reached our first goal in 2018, that of becoming a registered not-for-profit. I am most grateful to those of you who let your names stand as our inaugural council. Moving forward, we will continue to formalize this council, creating a team of strategic and creative thinkers who are passionate about AHA!’s mission.
As our year end is December 31, I would like to invite any who are passionate about AHA!, who have participated in AHA! in any way, and who are interested in helping to lead the team through 2019, to please let me know. Anyone who has regular paid work through AHA! isn’t eligible to be on the leadership council while working for us.
AHA! will continue to host open meetings, though perhaps not quite as frequently as previously, and will continue to value your input at meetings. Please save the date of Feb. 27, 5 pm to attend our inaugural AGM!
Your name will remain on our contact list for the open meetings unless we are told otherwise. Please feel free to connect with us at any time through email or social media.
Many thanks for your interest in, and support for, AHA! We are anticipating an exciting year!
Please preregister for participatory workshops on the form below.
There is no participation fee; donations to help cover costs will be welcome at the door.
The workshops will be held at the locations noted next to the workshop:
Clare Marie Gathering Place, Martha Place, St. Martha’s Hospital, Antigonish
CACL Lunchroom – CACL / Legion on St. Ninian St., Antigonish
Monday, November 19: 6-8 pm Songwriting: Word Power in Song (for Youth grades 7-12)
Join Kim in collaborative songwriting to know the power of words through song. Participants will use ‘free writing’ and collaborate in groups to create songs and share the experience. If you play an instrument, please bring it! However, you don’t need to play an instrument to attend this workshop. Hope to see you there!
Kim Wempe uses her past experience as a touring musician and her current experience as a nursing student at St.FX to combine art and health through songwriting as an outlet workshops that address mental wellness, coping, and social inclusion. Kim has worked with youth and music in a variety of school settings since February 2016 thanks to the support and funding from Arts Health Antigonish and SchoolsPlus-Antigonish. She also teaches private voice and guitar lessons, as well as continues to play shows as a singer-songwriter. Currently, Kim is completing her Bachelor of Science in Nursing with a final clinical in Youth Health Centres.
Monday, November 26th: 6-7:30 pm Comedy Improv for Youth! ( all ages!) Laura Teasdale
We will learn basic comedy improvisation skills to help kids engage with other kids, stay focused, learn to think on their feet, boost confidence and have FUN!
In improvisation, we are always making stuff up, and there are no mistakes. It is a great time to let kids be kids without anxiety and fear of failure. If we’re laughing…we’re succeeding!
Laura Teasdale is an actor, singer, playwright and teacher. She spent twenty four years living in Quebec, but recently returned home to her beloved Antigonish. She hasn’t regretted it for a minute. You may have seen her this summer at Festival Antigonish in Lunenberg, Burnin’ Love or in her own show Being Hank & Patsy. She was probably laughing when you saw her. Laura has always been very active and dedicated to community groups. Most of her plays involve local history. As part of her Performing Arts degree, Laura learned all about comedy, from the ancient Greeks on down to clowns and British Farces. She is a long time member of a comedy improv troupe and a clown troupe. She studied with the great Canadian Laughologist, Albert Nerenberg. But she also learned that the funniest moments are the ones we share among family and friends.
Arts Health Antigonish (AHA!) seeks a sound artist (“the artist”) to create a sound installation using “field sounds” such as voices, hand clapping, toe tapping, song, laughter, chatter, excerpts of poems or stories, from Arts Canopy sessions with participants who are living with dementia. The artist will unify these sounds into a complete, artistically realized vision. The intent is to inspire and engage the community in re-envisioning how we see people with dementia, especially in terms of appreciating how the arts give meaning to the lives of those who still have much to offer.
AHA! is a non-profit collaboration between local artists, health care workers, and educators, which began at the Sustainable Antigonish table in 2013 with an exploration as to how culture contributes to community sustainability and resilience. Since 2013, AHA! has lived its mission of ‘fostering creative expression for community health’, creating about 20 arts-based programs over a five-year period. AHA! is particularly interested in helping those in our community with less access to the arts, those in transition, isolated, ill or vulnerable in other ways: youth, seniors, immigrants, those in hospital and in long term care facilities.
Arts Canopy was created by AHA! in 2016 with the goal of focusing on the abilities and capacities of those living with dementia, rather than on their deficits. Between 2016 and 2018, AHA! will have offered 29 x 10 week arts-based programs, in music, poetry, visual arts, movement, dance, pottery and storytelling, all facilitated by professional artists. An annual celebration of the artwork of Arts Canopy is part of valuing the creative contributions of participants. A visual community installation of the art produced in 2017 was held through GoArts, a celebration of local arts and a highlight of the Highland Games in Antigonish. Through Arts Canopy programs, participants have found new ways to express themselves, other ways of remembering, they have enjoyed greater socialization, improved mood, lessened anxiety, and those effects lasted well beyond the end of the programs.
This sound installation project will celebrate the 2018 Arts Canopy programs. AHA’s hope is that through this installation, we can share more widely participants’ joy, their engagement in song and in ‘other ways of remembering’, their empathy for one another, their creativity. By listening to and understanding what people with dementia have to offer, all of us become recipients of their creativity.
Scope of Work:
The artist will consult with the Arts Canopy and AHA! teams to understand the Arts Canopy program goals and outcomes that have become evident, as well as the intent of the installation. The artist will create a vision for the project and will use previously professionally recorded (by a sound technician) audio clips of Arts Canopy sessions to create the sound installation, working with the sound technician. The artist will have full responsibility for all creative and technical aspects of the project and will report to designated members of the AHA! leadership team.
A sound installation (about 30 minutes), ideally to be completed by Feb 28, 2019, but this will depend on artist availability and funding being secured.
Terms and Conditions:
The terms of payment will be negotiable with the successful applicant. Our proposal is that the artist will be paid a flat rate: 35% on the first iteration of the project, 65% on the final iteration and delivery of the completed installation. A final two-page report on the project will be expected by AHA! prior to the final payment.
It is anticipated that the project will be completed within 4-5 months, depending on the start date, but a final timeline will be negotiated with the successful artist. The installation will be fully owned by AHA!, and the organization will have complete control over its distribution. The artist will be given full credit for the work done.
Please send clear, organized documents in easily accessible programs (such as MS Word for written documents and MS Excel for the budget). Please also ensure that your name is on each document you send. Include the following as part of your proposal:
Letter of Intent including the proposed method (techniques, etc.) to be used to communicate the key messages. Please note that AHA! is open to discussing a visual component to accompany the sound installation;
C.V. of no more than 3 pages showing education, experience, and previous accomplishments, including 2-3 professional references with names and contact information;
Samples of previous similar work (include media files or links to online sources);
Timeline for making and completing the installation
Evaluation and Award Process:
Proposals will be considered on both artistic and financial merits, to include the artist’s experience, the proposed creative direction for this project, and the financial proposal. Final terms will be negotiated with the winning artist. Since the project is subject to the availability of funding, AHA! reserves the right to reject all proposals. All applicants will be notified, whether or not they are successful.
“Art has the power to inspire, the power to heal, the power to transform, to rehabilitate, to bear witness, and to make us believe that there are better days ahead.”
Michaelle Jean, former Governor General of Canada