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What Are The Benefits of Art Therapy?

One soggy winter’s eve, a year ago, I was traveling home on the route 86 tram, enjoying the onboard human spectacle that is almost guaranteed on a Friday night after Happy Hour is over.  Two animated youngish women initiated a conversation with me and I was so caught up in it that I missed my stop.  We had been creating personalities and life stories for our fellow travellers: a look, a gesture, an article of clothing; these women had a sharp eye for detail and an uncanny ability to invent a seemly human context for it all.  As I said a hurried good-bye, one of the women squeezed my arm and said, “Hope you understand, we can’t help ourselves; we’re art therapists”.

What is art therapy? 
Art therapy is a form of psychotherapy that uses art media as its primary mode of communication.  Most commonly, art therapy involves drawing or painting, but the artistic expression can also take place through photography, sculpture or ceramics.  All forms of art can embody ideas so the list of arts therapies available includes music therapy, dance movement therapy, poetry therapy and many more.  Professionals, trained in art and psychotherapy, develop interactive scenarios that connect with various aspects of the client’s whole person (mind, body, spirit) and using the creative process of art-making, work to improve and enhance the physical, mental and emotional well-being of individuals of all ages.

Clients may have a wide range of difficulties, disabilities or diagnoses including emotional, behavioral or mental health problems, learning or physical disabilities, life-limiting conditions, brain-injury or neurological conditions and physical illness.  Equally, clients may be on a journey of self-discovery and personal growth, wanting to reveal and revel in the unconscious realms of their being.  Through creating art and reflecting on the art products and processes, people can increase awareness of self and others, cope with symptoms, stress and traumatic experiences, enhance cognitive abilities, and enjoy the life-affirming pleasures of making art.

How did that chance encounter on the 86 tram last year lead me to explore this topic?  As I am a person who seems to forget the random events that others remember, recalling this one so clearly is remarkable (especially as I had been having a rather Happy Hour myself).  My explanation is that this incident is a marker along a route I had unknowingly been on for some time, one that brought me to a With One Voice choir, not at all aware that I was seeking solace but most definitely finding it.

Within each choir member, I can now see an art therapist, administering to his and her deeper needs and those of acquaintances, bridging gaps, constructing meaning and coherence, hope, acceptance, ambition and self-trust.  It happens individually and on a subconscious level but after an hour’s singing, the beneficial effects are clearly visible; cheeks and eyes are glowing and it’s an unbroken chain of happy faces traveling in a semi-circle, from the sopranos to the basses, just like a smile.

Written by Miriam Potter.

With One Voice Welcomes Wellbeing!

We recently published an innovative guide to member well-being. Since our launch in 2009, the With One Voice Choir community choir programs have endeavoured to encourage diversity, build capacity and create opportunity within our community. With 12 choirs throughout Melbourne, and two newly launched interstate choirs in Canberra and Sydney, this program has always had an incredible scope for impact and has helped people from all walks of life ‘find their voice’.

This success has in turn lead to the expansion of the organisations reach, with various new programs and initiatives launching in 2012, including the implementation of the Wellbeing Initiative – a initiative that will see us improve our capacity to support, empower and encourage our members within and beyond choir rehearsals. (more…)

Introducing the Canberra Sings Choir

In partnership with the Canberra Hospital we launched Canberra Sings on May 14th. This new initiative aims to unlock creative potential, create wellness and build stronger connections between the staff and local Canberra community. Music is proven to have healing properties and we are delighted to fill the hospital with singing voices. Canberra Sings is open to all Canberra Hospital Staff, patients and anyone from the surrounding Canberra community. For more information and to get involved please see here or contact us.

Sydney Sings, Sydney Soars – Celebrate!

The Sydney Sings party, I mean choir, is great fun every week. Shannon and I have a ball. I don’t think it is possible to have a more diverse group of people, all just having fun, sharing great music together.

Each week is different, as we are still growing in numbers (I think we are up to 80!), learning new songs and singing oldies we all know and love. We sing from our hearts and with our whole body. It is all just good for the soul. We’ve even managed to sing in 3 part harmony last week. It’s sounding awesome!

The highlight for me however, is not only this wonderful music that we are singing, (especially as most of us were told “not to sing” or “go to the back of the choir”….) but the heart warming stories that we share.

Between songs, people tell their stories (not long ones…). We share little things about ourselves, our ancestors, people and things we love, our wishes, what we are grateful for, our favorite moments in our day, our lives.

And what stories we have to share. What resources we have to support each other with, and what a deep joy this brings.

One lady from the corporate community who is finally getting a kitten this weekend, and between the kitten and the choir, she says she has all the unconditional love she needs; another overseas member got a job offer thanks to another choir member, how great is that! We are still looking for ways to improve on golf swings…anyone, anyone?

Some of the favorite musical moments for our choir members include singing with Sydney Street Choir at the Opera House; a Bette Midler concert at Radio City in NYC in the 1980s; and an older member remembering back to when she was 3 years old, and coming out from under her blanket in her cot singing a butterfly song to herself.

And then we sing. This is why we sing…

We meet every Tuesday in the warm and inviting Pitt St Uniting Church at 5.30pm, new members are always welcome, just turn up; and a free Oz Harvest feast afterwards for all.

See you soon at Sydney Sings!

View some photos of Sydney Sings rehearsing here.

Written by Elizabeth Lecoanet.

Sydney Sings Launch and Gala Event

With the support of the Vincent Fairfax Foundation we launched our first social inclusion program in Sydney.  In April, Sydney Sings was launched at Price Waterhouse Coopers.

This unique program brings together diverse voices as ‘one voice’ to build harmony, wellbeing and jobs…from CEOs to asylum seekers. The event was hosted by Sydney PwC Manging Partner Joseph Carrozzi and Sydney Sings was launched in fine style by Malcolm Turnbull.

Founder of Creativity Australia Tania de Jong entranced the audience with her presentation and performance. Joining the chorus, the VIP guests included leaders from a range of different cultural and faith communities, recruitment, employment depression and disability services. Other guests included Carnival Australia chief Ann Sherry and Red Balloon Founder Naomi Simson, Danny Gilbert of Gilbert Tobin, Robin Crawford of Goodstart.

Sydney Sings rehearses weekly on Tuesdays at Pitt St Uniting Church. All are welcome to find their unique voice and help others.

With One BIG Voice Concert 2011

The beautiful sounds of 12 With One Voice choirs coming together as one was heard on Sunday November 27th, 2011 at the Melbourne Town Hall, for Creativity Australia’s annual With One BIG Voice concert.

All of the audience members in the packed out hall were swept away by the uplifting voices, and couldn’t resist clapping and singing along…with some even shedding a tear when listening to the choir participants’ inspirational stories.

It was a beautiful afternoon for all involved – congratulations to all!  Check out our photo gallery for more photos.

Watch the 300 voices come together to perform Toto’s ‘Africa’:

Sing For Your Supper – A Sensational Success

Thank you so much to everyone who came along to the Sing For Your Supper Gala Dinner and made a the night so special.

Thankyou in particular to all those who generously made donations, bought raffle tickets or bid at the Auction. Our programs continue to exist because of you!

Thank you for supporting Creativity Australia at our major fundraising dinner ‘Sing for your Supper’ on 17 November 2011 at Regent Plaza Ballroom, Melbourne. CA raised over $120,000 to provide opportunities, wellbeing, skills and jobs for disadvantaged people through our With One Voice program.

This event, which was also the Gala Dinner for Creative Innovation 2011 attracted over 450 senior level corporates, members of government, international thought leaders, personalities, media commentators, philanthropists and their guests. Dinner guests included some of the world’s most influential minds such as Edward de Bono (UK), Raymond Kurzweil (USA), Daniel Dennett (USA), Brendan Boyle (USA), Paddy Miller (Spain) and many of Australia’s leading thinkers and innovators.

Sing For Your Supper Gala Dinner

Be entertained, uplifted and inspired at the event of the year!

Thursday November 17
Regent Plaza Ballroom
191 Collins Street, Melbourne
6.30pm for 7pm dinner

Enjoy outstanding food, wine and song with some of the world’s most influential minds including Edward de Bono (UK), Raymond Kurzweil (USA), Daniel Dennett (USA), Brendan Boyle (USA), Paddy Miller (Spain) and many of Australia’s leading thinkers, performers and innovators appearing at Creative Innovation 2011.

Rub shoulders with senior level corporates, members of government, personalities, media commentators and philanthropists while watching outstanding performances by Australia opera group Pot-Pourri, brilliant pianist Stefan Cassomenos and some of the With One Voice choirs, including Melbourne Sings. At the event we will offer some unique events and experiences.

This fundraising dinner is critical to our ability to deliver Creativity Australia’s With One Voice programs to those who need it most. The entry ticket for the Gala Dinner includes a fully tax-deductible donation. Your donation and support will help us in our mission to inspire people to find their voice and make a meaningful difference!

Click here to download the invitation and booking form.

A Sensational Sunday of Song!

Sunday 27th November 2011, Melbourne Town Hall (Swanston St)

3.30pm: ‘With One BIG Voice’
For the first time, the beautiful sounds of 13 With One Voice choirs are coming together for Creativity Australia’s With One BIG Voice concert.  The choirs, conducted by Shaun Islip, Stefan Cassomenos, Kym Dillon, Jolene Moran, Bridget a’Beckett, Jo Cohen, will also feature esteemed guest soprano Tania de Jong AM, baritone Jonathan Morton and a featured piano solo by Stefan Cassomenos.

From classical to jazz, opera, gospel, soul and more – this special charity concert truly has something for everyone. Bring the whole family! Sing along, open your heart and be swept away by the uplifting voices, emotion and timeless songs with songs including Freedom is Coming, What a Wonderful World, That’s What Friends Are For, We are Australian, You’ll Never Walk Alone, Hallelujah, Imagine, The Lion King, Glee songs, and many more…

All concert proceeds go to Creativity Australia’s With One Voice choir programs which inspire people to find their voice, wellbeing, jobs and joy!

7.30pm: Pot-Pourri ‘Silver’ Premiere CD Launch and 25th Anniversary Concert Pot-Pourri is Tania de Jong AM, Rebecca Bode, Jon Bode, Jonathan Morton and Rebecca Chambers with special guest artist Stefan Cassomenos. Take 5 of Australia’s most talented performers… add a dash of opera and a slice of cabaret, toss in your favourite Broadway hits and a touch of class, gorgeous costumes, a hint of magic and then top it all off with a big dollop of comedy. All your favourite songs in ONE glorious performance!

For more information please contact Creative Universe on 03 8679 6000 / [email protected]. Tickets via Ticketek:www.ticketek.com.au / 132 849

Download the flyer here.

Royal Children’s Hospital Sings for The Queen

The Royal Children’s Hospital Sings Choir performed at the opening of the new Royal Children’s Hospital in October, 2011.  This momentous occasion was particularly special as it was attended by the Queen, and the choir performed beautifully for her, Prince Philip as well as a large VIP audience.

It has been almost 50 years since the RCH moved to its original site, and the Queen did in fact open the former hospital building in February 1963 – what a great way to commemorate 50 years of excellence, and to celebrate the fantastic new hospital.

Explore the RCH website to learn more about its new facilities and initiatives – including an open air Meerkat enclosure, or check out our photo gallery for some more photos.

Congratulations to all involved!


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