O+ is now 8 years old! What began as a singular festival that came to life one weekend each year to provide a pop-up clinic and fill the streets of Kingston, NY, with music and art has evolved into a year-round, multi-city nonprofit organization that comprehensively advocates for underinsured artists and musicians working within the instability of the gig economy.
This year, O+ launched health forums and information expos, and O+ mural tours for school-age children and community members. Our Kingston, NY-based national team mentored local community leaders who sought a solution to inequitable health and wellness services for their neighbors in new O+ festival cities of Poughkeepsie, NY, and Haverhill, MA. This work was all made possible by our year-round staff, festival directors, hundreds of volunteers and the O+ Board of Directors, who worked tirelessly to revolutionize our country’s health and wellness system one town at a time.
In each of our festival cities, we partnered with similarly aligned nonprofits. Our art and music committees curated programming that complemented Better Block’s pop-up infrastructure in Haverhill. In Poughkeepsie, we partnered with Hudson River Housing (Middle Main Initiative), which provided the space for our Artists’ Clinic. And in Kingston, we designed compatible events with partners from the Good Work Institute and the Hudson River Maritime Museum.
And as we expanded, so did our message to affect change by equally valuing each other’s talents and expertise. O+’s innovative solution to local economies was featured in the December 2017/January 2018 issue of Professional Artist Magazine. Our murals not only supported classroom curriculum, they were featured in PBS NewsHour’s “Brief But Spectacular” portrait of O+ artist Jess X. Snow, and again in a travel story in The Wall Street Journal.
But it was even more of an honor to be recognized by our peers. O+ was a finalist for an Americans for the Arts Robert E. Gard Award, which celebrates exemplary work at the intersection of the arts and community life.
In the months to come we will turn our focus to onboarding new cities by developing an O+ training institute, and endeavoring to relocate our homebase to a storefront space with programming and gallery potential.
Thanks to our funders, sponsors, partners and individual donors and our dedicated volunteers for sticking with us on this long road to revolution. What follows on these pages is what happens when we all come together to address a need, come up with a solution and expand upon it.
O+ is a nonprofit cultural and wellness organization that is dedicated to supporting the health of underinsured artists and musicians, and revitalizing local communities. Our festivals, health services, health forums, cultural programs and community events restore and sustain the health of creatives while strengthening local economies.
O+ operates on the support, hard work and kindness of the communities we serve. By involving other nonprofit organizations and local businesses, O+ improves the physical and mental health of underinsured artists, musicians, volunteers and community members while revitalizing our community’s economic health. O+ has formed relationships with more than 50 local businesses, health organizations, nonprofits and hundreds of volunteers to date.
By exchanging the art of medicine for the medicine of art, O+ empowers communities to take control of their collective well-being.
O+ Festivals feature large-scale murals as well as sculpture, site-specific installations, film, theater and performances in public spaces. O+ artists receive health and wellness care in exchange for their creative gifts. In Kingston, NY, O+ launched a mural tour program for which schools, visitors and community members receive mural maps that include artists’ statements. To date, 29 O+ murals have been made in Kingston alone.
O+ Festivals produce concerts in large and intimate venues, including a former Vaudevillian theater, galleries, breweries, even alleys. A music panel reviews submissions and invites bands to participate. O+ musicians receive complimentary health and wellness care in exchange for playing festival shows.
O+ is committed to advocating for underinsured, freelance musicians and artists in need of health and wellness support. Towards this end, the O+ Artists’ Clinic is the heart of every O+ festival. Artists, musicians and volunteers receive care from nurses, doctors, dentists, bodyworkers and mental health professionals. Audiences attend wellness expos, healing arts classes, cycling events, and NARCAN and CPR trainings.
O+ has developed Educate & Activate, a new series of forums that foster understanding of current public health issues, provide critical support for health insurance navigation, and coalesce the community response to policies and protocols.
O+ Festivals: Kingston & Beyond
Our O+ Festival is a weekend-long celebration, during which artists and musicians create and perform in exchange for a variety of health and wellness services donated by local doctors, dentists and complementary care providers.
Today, the O+ Festival is the most profitable weekend of the year for many businesses in the city of Kingston, where the flagship festival takes place. O+ has been recognized and acknowledged by the city government as a vital cultural and economic driver in Kingston’s revitalization.
While O+ Kingston grows each year to include more musicians, mural artists, performers, wellness workshops, classes and health services, over the last seven years O+ has launched festival chapters across the nation, including San Francisco, Petaluma, CA, Chicago, Haverhill, MA, and Poughkeepsie, NY.
This year’s O+ Kingston festival served a total of 3,600 attendees, 60 bands, 30+ mural and performance artists, provided by a league of 100 festival volunteers. The O+ Artists’ Clinic had 95 volunteer health providers who provided 362 health and wellness visits for 161 patients, representing growth of more than 300 percent in this festival alone. We continued to offer NARCAN training seminars, during which community members learned how and when to administer the lifesaving antidote that can reverse the fatal effects of an opioid. We also provided CPR trainings, and hosted a wellness expo during the festival.
The inaugural O+ Poughkeepsie took place in August 2017 and drew 1,029 attendees to revitalizing blocks of the city’s Main Street. The 2-day festival included 21 bands, 8 mural artists, and was produced by a league of 35 volunteers. The O+ Artists’ Clinic in the Poughkeepsie Underwear Factory had 12 health providers who provided 159 health and wellness visits for 53 patients. O+ curated five large-scale murals by artists in Poughkeepsie, Ulster County and Rochester, and a sixth mural by a collective of local artists. The festival also featured an informative and fun health and wellness EXPO+ curated by WMC Health/Mid-Hudson Regional Hospital.
In May 2017 we launched the first O+ Festival in Haverhill (45 minutes north of Boston). Taking place over 2-days, the festival served a total of 1,000 attendees, 20 bands, 2 mural artists, and was produced by a league of 40 volunteers. The Haverhill O+ Artists’ Clinic at Phoenix Rising church had 10 health providers who provided 62 health and wellness visits for 21 patients. Highlights included live large-scale mural painting by O+ alumnus Eugene Stetz and local illustrator Brian Canty. Boston-based folk/punk quartet, Troll 2, beautifully summarized their O+ experience stating, “They treated us so good, feeding us, healing us, and nurturing a community based on mutual support. Seriously, if these folks ran the world, I’m not sure what punk bands would have to sing about.”
Catalyzed by the 2016 national election, O+ has also developed an educational program, Educate & Activate, to foster awareness of the larger health policies at play and provide a forum for local community advocacy. Towards this end, Educate & Activate forums bring together panels of non-profit organizations, local government leaders, educators and activists to discuss national health issues and their impact on local communities.
The first Educate & Activate in January focused on the “Future of Healthcare Access.” Panelists included New York State Assemblyman Kevin Cahill, chair of the Committee on Insurance and member of the Committee on Health; O+ co-founder Thomas Cingel, DDS; Cynthia Kim, director of behavioral science at The Institute for Family Health; insurance expert Renata Marinaro of The Actors Fund; Ruth-Ellen Blodgett, president & CEO of Planned Parenthood Mid-Hudson Valley, and Dave Scarpino of HealthAlliance of the Hudson Valley. Other topics explored this year were “Food Scarcity” and “Economics and what is next”. Close to 500 citizens across the Hudson Valley gave voice to issues that affect their lives and their futures. A “Bodily Autonomy” forum is planned for early 2018.
O+ also hosted The Actors Fund to lead a workshop on navigating the public health insurance system, which took place at The Lace Mill building, a housing development for artists in Kingston, NY.
This year a pilot series of Mural Tours, which took place from May-November, was made by possible with funds from the state’s Decentralization Program, administered by Arts Mid-Hudson. The project included the design and production of Mural Maps that would support self-led and artist-led tours of the murals that O+ artists have gifted to the city of Kingston, NY, over the last 7 years. The map was also made available as a resource to visitors and residents via the Ulster County and City of Kingston tourism bureaus, local businesses, and other public places, to enable ongoing self-guided tours. Throughout the spring and fall, O+ artists and staff provided school tours to more than 300 K-12 students and educators as well as community partners including Teaching the Hudson Valley. Public all-age tours took place on March 30 and September 23 as part of the O+ Bike Rack competition unveiling, and Artwalk Kingston. In addition, groups from as far as Poughkeepsie have come to Kingston on their own to see our murals. One example has been the organizer of the Guelaguetza Festival, who brought members of the Oaxacan community in Poughkeepsie to see our “Native Americans Discover Columbus” mural by Lady Pink.
Made possible by a grant through American Planning Association-NY as part of the Plan4Health program, the Kingston Bike Rack Design Competition was a partnership between O+, Live Well Kingston, Bike-Friendly Kingston, Complete Streets Advisory Council, and the new Kingston Greenline.
The competition asked artists and designers to submit their designs for a Kingston bike rack to be installed along Cornell Street as part of the Kingston Greenline, a network of linear parks and streets that connects residents and visitors to Kingston’s rich historical cultural recreational commercial and resources through a bike trail.
In March, the design reveal party kicked off with a cycling tour of some of the O+ murals and concluded at The Lace Mill with an exhibition of the five bike rack design finalists. The competition winners were artists Keith Andy Carollo and Chris Bick, whose winning design will be fabricated for installation along Cornell Street.
In O+ Artists’ Clinics, patients received the following services: primary care appointments, cardiology consultations, mental health care, physical therapy, acupuncture, Chinese medicine, medical QiGong, naturopathy, homeopathy, clinical hypnosis, Ayurvedic nutrition, nurse health coach sessions, chiropractics, massage therapy, SomaVeda Thai Yoga therapy, Somatic Movement Therapy, reflexology, Breema Bodywork, OrthoBionomy with a medical Intuitive, life work with Spacious Heart Guidance and craniosacral therapy.
In addition, patients sat with health insurance navigators from New York State of Health, spoke with representatives from The Actors Fund and Health Care is a Human Right, were educated about HPV and provided a self-testing space by the practitioners at GoDocGo. Patients even received haircuts from stylists at Headspace Salon, and made live recordings onto vinyl with YouThere!
O+ Kingston musician Phoenix Roebuck (Roebuck) said festival organizers “restored my faith in humanity — and revived it.” She took to Facebook to thank O+ volunteer coordinator Brandy Walters, fellow musicians, festival organizers and providers, including the office of Dr. Tom Cingel “for cleaning everyone’s teeth in our band with such joy and kindness, and not only removing my wisdom teeth — but letting me keep all the pieces.”
The members of Roebuck, Viva Le Vox and Bob Fleming and The Cambria Iron Co. have all vowed to return to O+ Kingston next year as volunteers. They’re calling their 2018 tour, which will end at the Kingston O+ Festival, “The Road to Wellness.”
Wee D. Williams of the band Bob Fleming and The Cambria Iron Co. wrote about her experience:
“O+ Festival was such a magical time. I can’t begin to describe the happiness I’ve been blessed with from seeing so many people care about each other so much. Services I received this weekend: general check up, including hearing & eye exam, mental health support, dental deep cleaning, nightguard to stop grinding my teeth, massage therapy, advice on affordable health insurance, HPV screening (HPV causes 90% of cervical cancers), delicious, good for you food everyday.
None of these things would have been affordable for me, but the providers, staff, and volunteers here went above and beyond to make sure I left here the healthiest I could. I am overwhelmed with gratitude! Plus, the music and art of the weekend was some of the most soul healing ever. Thank you. Thank you to everyone. I am so full of love on this trip home.”
|Liabilities & Net Assets||Total|
|Total Liabilities & Net Assets||$174,116|
O+ sponsors, grantors and donors directly support the cost of producing festivals, materials and supplies for clinics, the mural tour maps, and year-round Educate & Activate series as well as the team of O+ staff members who bring O+ programs and festivals to life.
Our sponsors connect with O+ because our work and mission complement their core values. “It is a special responsibility I think we have as an organization to find that pathway to be able to support artists, especially if they are doing something for the community,” says Mark Golden, CEO of Golden Artist Colors, Inc.
Golden, an employee-owned company, has evolved from partner (supplying paint) to national sponsor (supplying paint, giving fiscal support and facilitating 20 optometry appointments for our visual artists). Keegan Ales, the site of the first O+ meetings back in 2010, now showcases O+ bands, provides walls for a number of our large-scale murals, makes an O+ beer each year, and gives us fiscal support for our Kingston festival.
Tides Foundation: $70,000
Haverhill Cultural Council/City of Haverhill: $3,000
GWI Grant: $2,500
Lawson Valentine Foundation: $2,500
Arts Mid-Hudson (administrator): $2,000
Thaddeus Foundation: $1,000
Kingston Uptown Business Association: $500
Bank of Greene County: $500
$5,000 and above
O+ Festival Ticket Sales: $60,000
Frank and Flo Orzo
$1,500 and above
$1,000 and above
Partners donate the in-kind services and goods that we rely on.
We could not build community and take care of so many without the outpouring of support from these exceptional individuals, businesses and companies that provide their products, services and credit at their stores. From day one in 2010 O+ has been about valuing each other equally and accepting whatever anyone is able to give. These fine companies give what they can to O+ to help us complete our mission. We LO+VE you!
Kia Abilay, Jane Bloodgood Abrams, Maxfield Bala, Micah Blumenthal, Jacinta Bunnell, Joe Concra, Leela Corman, Luba Donskoj, Jessica DuPont, Brent Felker, John Fischer, Lorraine Furtick, Marlene Furtick, Gaia, Liz Harrington, Jan Harrison, Margaret Hartford, Jetsonorama, Carolita Johnson, Don Johnson, Kimberly Kae, Dina Kravtsov, Leonie Lacouette, Ruth Lancer, Polly Law, Will Lytle, Norm Magnusson, Miette, Jeffrey Milstein, Linda Mary Montano, Mildred Kelly Montano, Sean Murray, Mary Jane Nusbaum, Ken Nystrom, Denise Orzo, Tom Orzo, Geddes Jones Paulsen, Michael Pisacane, Matthew Pleva, Jessica Poser, Giselle Potter, Hilary Price, Carla Rozman, Ernest Shaw, Jess X Snow, Eugene Stetz, Matt Taylor, Genevieve Kara Tefft, Katey Truhn, Jessie Unterhalter, Buddy Valentine, Chris Victor, Sarah Vogwill, Theresa Widmann
O+ currently has seven Board members, twelve administrative staff, and hundreds of volunteers that represent the cultural life and health industry of the Hudson Valley.
Thanks to funds from a major anonymous donor matched by individual donations from community members, O+ hired Aimee Gardner (pictured above at far left) as its first full-time employee. Aimee leads the year-round staff as the Director of Operations after having volunteered as the festival director for O+ San Francisco and O+ Petaluma. We are pleased to have her back in Kingston and keeping our day-to-day work on track. O+ also hired a number of part-time staff members, all of whom are previous O+ volunteers and/or alumni.
Executive Director – Joe Concra
Director of Operations – Aimee Gardner
Director of Communications – Kathleen Murray
Creative and IT Director – Micah Blumenthal
Development Manager – Amy Poux
Art Directors – Denise Orzo & Kimberly Kae (pictured at right)
Clinic Director/Nursing Specialist – Shannon Light
Financial Director At-Large – Sarah Jacob
O+ Haverhill Festival Director – Hailey Moschella
O+ Poughkeepsie Festival Director – Corene Concepcion-Rivera
O+ Kingston Festival Director – Olga Schoonmaker
Plus the hundreds of volunteers that power each city’s festivals
In late 2016 through the end of 2017, O+ welcomed new members who bring finance and legal expertise to the Board of Directors. Among them was Michael Pisacane, an independent investment advisor and owner of MAP Financial. Michael started volunteering with O+ in 2014 after being “completely swept up in the festival’s love and support” that his son, Gaia, received as a participating O+ mural artist. Michael states, “My son and all these artists were able to receive dental and medical care in return for their art. Accepting the invitation to become a board member (in late 2016) was an honor and an opportunity to give back to the O+ community and help make the mission a reality.”
Theresa Widmann – President, Treasurer (pictured at left)
Founder, Anahata Yoga & More
Liz Harrington – Secretary
Business Development Consultant/Growth Director, Hudson Valley Current
John Cappello – Board Member
Land Use, Environmental & Municipal Lawyer
Jacobowitz and Gubits, LLP
Justin Goldman – Board Member
Financial Services, The Bank of Greene County
David Ping – Board Member
President, David Ping Group
Michael Pisacane – Board Member
Owner, MAP Financial
Daniel Stone – Board Member
Partner, Evolving Media Network, and Senior Creative Technologist, Moonfarmer
There is no better testament to the work we do than when alumni artists and musicians return as festival volunteers. This year in Kingston, alumnus musician Frank McGinnis volunteered at our festival home base and interfaced with attendees, accepting donations for all-access wristbands and answering questions. Kyle Mcdonough (Kyle & The Pity Party) brought his expertise and relationships in the music sector as a volunteer on the O+ Festival Music Committee. 2017 performers Bob Fleming and Wee D. Williams (Bob Fleming and The Cambria Iron Co.) and Tony Bones (Viva Le Vox) were so inspired by the O+ mission that they signed up for volunteer shifts at the same festival in which they were playing!
We also saw longtime volunteers deepen their engagement: Brandy Walters of The Anchor (an O+ venue) stepped into the role of Volunteer Coordinator while retaining her involvement on the Music Committee; Diane Reeder of Kingston Candy Bar oversaw the O+ Greenroom at this year’s festival; and many volunteers committed more hours to the cause by joining additional committees or giving additional hours.