The Happening: Creativity and Mental Health

October 15, 2013
The Happening Slider

Artbeat founders Nigel and Lucille Bart with guest speaker Clara Hughes, O.C., Olympian. October 9, 2013.

Artbeat Studio attended The Happening: An Evening Where Creativity and Mental Health Come Together, presented by Her Excellency Sharon Johnston and His Excellency the Right Honourable David Johnston, Governor General of Canada.



Their Excellencies to Host The Happening: An Evening Where Creativity and Mental Health Come Together 

OTTAWA—Her Excellency Sharon Johnston will bring The Happening: An Evening Where Creativity and Mental Health Come Together, to Rideau Hall on Wednesday, October 9, 2013. She will be joined by His Excellency the Right Honourable David Johnston, Governor General of Canada. This evening is dedicated to exploring the relationship between mental health and creativity, and will be presented in collaboration with Workman Arts, one of the largest and longest-running multidisciplinary arts and mental health organizations.

“As patron of Workman Arts, I couldn’t be more pleased to host this wonderful evening where we honour the arts and its healing benefits in the treatment of mental illness and addiction,” said Her Excellency. “Mental illness is among the most complex and pressing health issues of our time. This event is intended to raise public awareness of mental health issues and to encourage greater social acceptance of Canadians living with mental illness. Workman Arts has pushed the boundaries by helping thousands of aspiring, emerging and established artists with mental illness and addiction issues to refine their art forms through its training programs, its public performance and exhibit opportunities, and its partnerships with other arts organizations.” 


6:45 p.m.
Screening of William Kurelek’s The Maze by filmmakers Nick and Zack Young
Ballroom, Rideau Hall
To launch the evening, Her Excellency will offer remarks to introduce a special screening ofthe documentary William Kurelek’s The Maze. The film recounts the life of celebrated Canadian artist William Kurelek, dramatically told through his paintings and his on-camera revelations. It takes an intimate look into the life of one of the 20th century’s most fascinating artists and his struggles with attempted suicide and a self-professed “spiritual crisis.” Kurelek describes his painting The Maze as the inside of his skull. 

8 p.m.
Discussion on How Creativity and Mental Health Come Together
Ballroom, Rideau Hall
A group discussion will immediately follow the screening and will be moderated by Seamus O’Regan, news correspondent and an advocate for mental health. The discussion will be launched by guest speakers Stephen Kurelek, son of William Kurelek; Clara Hughes, O.C., Olympian, humanitarian and motivator; Brigitte Gagnon, physical educator at l’Institut universitaire en santé mentale de Québec; and Susan Aglukark, O.C., Inuk singer, songwriter and keynote speaker, who will share their thoughts and experiences on this important topic.

8:45 p.m.
Mad Couture Catwalk
Tent Room, Rideau Hall
The evening will conclude with a presentation of the Mad Couture Catwalk, a runway-style presentation of wearable art created by Workman artists that challenges norms, shifts boundaries and engages in dialogue about mental health and addiction issues.  The Governor General will deliver closing remarks.

About the Mad Couture Catwalk
The first Madness and Arts Festival was conceived and produced by Workman Arts in 2003. In 2006, Germany hosted the second festival, which featured CATWALK, a new and exciting part of the program. It was this presentation that inspired the creation of the Mad Couture Catwalk.  It was developed collaboratively with artist and educator Elena Soní, who designed four original garments in cotton ducking as a “blank canvas” for each participating artist. Ten Workman Arts members, working with range of artistic media, were then selected through an adjudication of formal proposals. 

About Workman Arts
Workman Arts was founded in 1987, by executive/artistic director Lisa Brown. For over 25 years, it has empowered aspiring, emerging and established artists with mental illness and addiction issues to develop and refine their art practice through multi-faceted arts training programs and public performance/exhibition opportunities in five disciplines: music, theatre, visual, literary and media arts. Sustaining excellence in programming and research, and in partnership with other arts organizations, Workman Arts has entertained audiences and challenged perceptions about mental illness and addiction through diverse, thought-provoking programs. Workman Arts is a partner of the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health. For more information, visit




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