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.
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!