New Hampshire’s opioid crisis is the major public health challenge of our time. It is an addiction epidemic that kills nearly 64,000 people in America every year and, in 2017, 483 people in our state. Arts experience may help: a growing body of research shows that engaging in the arts lowers blood pressure, reduces the need for medication, and supports healing by easing anxiety, depression and other stressors that affect a person’s physical and emotional condition. Throughout New Hampshire, our arts community is creating opportunities to open the dialog around substance misuse and to support people and families in recovery.
In Manchester, The Art of Hope is a collaborative partnership between The Currier Museum of Art and Partnership for Drug-Free Kids to help families struggling with addiction by providing positive experiences in the museum’s galleries. The Drug Enforcement Administration Youth Dance program - which provides a free and positive afterschool alternative to drugs through the fun, healthy, and expressive art form of dance - visited two Manchester elementary schools and had Chief Nick Willard showing off his dance moves much to the delight of the kids. The second annual Arts Jam Bridge Fest to help Granite United Way’s work to end the crisis will take place September 8, 2018.
Creative Recovery is a collaboration between the Lakes Region Art Association and Navigating Recovery of the Lakes Region. The program offers art, photography and video classes to recovering addicts.
On April 6, 2018 in the Redfern Arts Center at Keene State College and April 7, 2018 in the Stockbridge Theater on the campus of Pinkerton Academy in Derry, audiences were invited to listen to The Addiction Performance Project by Theater of War Productions and participate in panel discussions.
On April 14, 2018 on the seacoast, the Portsmouth Poet Laureate Program and 3S Artspace presented The Beat Festival, a music and arts festival to support local recovery programs. The Dover Poet Laureate Shane Morin has been volunteering at S.O.S. Recovery Center in Dover with a writing program that is expanding to the Rochester center. Recently, NH Theatre Project presented A Wider Circle by Mary Ellen Hendrick, as part of their NH Humanities-supported Elephant in the Room Series .
The New Hampshire State Council on the Arts, through its Arts in Health program, works with health-based organizations to support participatory arts activities, creative aging and artist residencies. This may include hospitals, rehabilitation/recovery centers, assisted living facilities, nursing homes, adult day centers, senior centers, veterans’ homes, or hospice/grief programs in New Hampshire. We have a roster of artists that provide creative experiences and we offer matching grant funds and trainings for providers.
Photos (top to bottom):
- Participants in the DEA Dance program from Manchester’s Parker-Varney Elementary School with Governor Chris Sununu.
- Poem written by a participant in the Writing From Within program at the Belknap County Department of Corrections.
- Scott Plante and Amanda Whitworth performing at the Beat Festival. Photo by Denise Wheeler
- Community discussion at NH Theatre Project presentation of A Wider Circle as part of the Elephant in the Room Series. Photo by Meghann Beauchamp
- Artwork for Art of Hope program at the Currier Museum of Art.