Artbeat’s heart beats for mental heath

January 30, 2014

24-hour Art-a-Thon supports artists & raises awareness for mental health

The Projector | Molly Karp | January 20th, 2014


Tara Davis

Tara Davis doesn’t believe she would be successful today if it wasn’t for the support she received from Winnipeg-based organization Artbeat Studio back in 2005.

That was the first year that Artbeat Studio launched its six month program designed to empower artists dealing with mental illness by providing them with studio space and mentorship.

“I wasn’t even leaving my house without my mom when I first got involved with Artbeat,” said Davis. “The six month program gave me the routine and creative practice that I have now discovered is imperative to my mental health.”

Jan. 17 marked the 18th rotation of artists that have gone through the program. The work that this most recent set of nine artists created in their individual studio spaces will be on display at Artbeat Studio until Jan. 25.

Davis believes the exhibition at the end of the six-month period is a great way for artists with mental illness to gain confidence in themselves and their creative abilities.

“Having people purchase my work was huge and it made me realize that I wanted to continue working in a creative capacity and to really push my work further,” said Davis.

Artbeat Studio founder and executive director Lucille Bart believes that the success of Artbeat’s program and its ability to promote recovery in talented artists like Davis is grounded in an alternative understanding of mental health.

“Sometimes if you have a mental health problem you are not able to articulate that problem in words and so our artists find that they can express themselves through different creative avenues,” said Bart. “It’s a very centering process.”

Bart sees mental health issues as “everyone’s problem” and would like Artbeat Studio and its message of recovery and empowerment to expand.

“What we can see for the future is having many Artbeats in the community,” said Bart.

Right now, two-thirds of Artbeat Studio’s funding comes from government programs and various project grants.

For the first time, from Feb. 6 to 7, the studio and its artists, including Davis, will participate in a 24-hour Art-a-thon and art auction to raise money for Artbeat Studio’s endowment fund, which supports its core programming—like the program Davis completed.

To raise money, people are encouraged to donate through The Winnipeg Foundation’s website where all proceeds will go directly to Artbeat Studio’s endowment fund.

Bart is very excited about this upcoming event and hopes that it generates more conversation surrounding mental health awareness

“I firmly believe that the more we are able to talk about these issues the more that we can do something about it.”