Joe Concra gives third O+ TEDx presentation

O+ Festival’s acting executive director Joe Concra took the stage on June 7, 2013 for O+’s third TEDx speaking engagement — TEDx Longdock in Beacon, New York. The theme of the day was Community, Collaboration and Sustainability – three of the core tenants of O+.

Thanks to Scott Tillitt for inviting O+ and to Rob Penner for editing the below video of Joe’s presentation.

O+ in the New York Times

Will Play for Health Care (at Least at One Music Event): The O+ Festival Expands to San Francisco

By BEN SISARIO | Published: November 15, 2013


The O+ Festival in San Francisco this weekend would seem a typical indie arts event, with performances by local musicians and displays of funky art. But in a twist that highlights a longstanding problem in the creative economy, the artists involved will be paid not in cash but rather in something they may need just as badly: health care.

The three-day festival, which began on Friday, pairs musicians and visual artists with doctors, dentists and other health advisers who donate their services through a pop-up clinic. Joe Concra, a painter who helped start the festival three years ago in Kingston, N.Y., describes the exchange of art for health treatment as a barter system that recalls a time before co-pays and H.M.O.’s.

“This goes back to, ‘Hey, doc, my tooth hurts; here’s a chicken,’ ” Mr. Concra said. The festival estimates that about $100,000 worth of music, art and health services were exchanged at the most recent edition, in Kingston last month. (It expanded to San Francisco for the first time this year.) Read more at

Bloomberg Businessweek Takes NO+te

Bartering Art for Health Care

By John Tozzi | November 18, 2010
Volunteer care providers serving O+'s Pop-Up Clinic, Kingston NY 2012.
Volunteer care providers serving O+’s Pop-Up Clinic, Kingston NY 2012.

A festival where uninsured artists and musicians exchange work for medical attention is attracting interest from organizers and physicians across the country looking to replicate the model

Jason Russo, a 37-year-old singer and guitarist from Brooklyn, hasn’t had consistent health care since he was a teenager. In October he saw a doctor—though in an unconventional setting: a gig in Kingston, N.Y., 90 miles north of New York City. Russo was one of 70 musicians and artists who bartered their creative services for medical care at an event called the O+ Festival. “It was kind of an amazing thing to sit down with a regular doctor,” he says. “Doctors are humans, it turns out. They enjoy rock music and art.”

A group of artists and physicians in the Hudson Valley conceived of the gathering. About 40 doctors, dentists, physical therapists, acupuncturists, and others donated 232 hours of service, valued at more than $38,000, to the bands and artists who played or created sculptures or paintings. “It really is about … helping artists and musicians who are contributing to society find health care at affordable rates,” says Arthur Chandler, a doctor at Columbia Memorial Hospital in Hudson, N.Y., and an organizer of O+ (pronounced O-positive). Read more in Bloomberg Businessweek

Internationally Renowned Street Artist, Gaia, Joins Kingston’s 2013 O+ Roster

Internationally known street artist Gaia joined us for 2013’s Kingston, NY O+ Festival, ambitiously taking on one of the city’s largest wall spaces for an eight-story original mural. Watch an artist profile produced by StudiO+, replete with time-lapse video of this awe-inspiring, one-man installation:

Gaia’s latest works endeavor to, “…remind us of lost human connections to nature and the environment.” About the mural Gaia designed for Kingston, he says, “The piece features the Greek goddess Artemis from a photo I took at the Vatican descending into a gaping limestone quarry with a skyline of New York City on the horizon and a Corinthian crown at the top. This piece goes in three directions: 1) A reference to Kingston’s proximity to natural resources that helped build New York City; 2) the process of resource exploitation as a defiling of the Mother Earth; 3) marble and limestone used for architectural embellishments in early Neo classical revival / Georgian American architecture, the statue not only representing Mother Earth but also is a Hellenistic and roman reference as a celebration of democracy in early United States history. This is further suggested with the Corinthian column.”

Gaia not only created this magnificent painting in a single week, but he also cashed in with some extremely valuable dental work thanks to our dental volunteers. Read more about this mural on Brooklyn Street Art.

photo by Andy Milford
The finished mural. Photo by Andy Milford
Photo by Andy Milford
Gaia surveying his work. Photo by Andy Milford

Richard Buckner Talks Life & Death with StudiO+

An exclusive StudiO+ appearance by Richard Buckner

Richard Buckner’s most recent record, Surrounded (2013, Merge Records), is his tenth full-length in a legacy dating back just shy of two decades. During that span, he’s stirred a substantial cult following of heartened fans — nearly spiritual about his music — whispering of him accolades like “greatest living songwriter.”

Some claim that his style defies categorization, in a gesture of reverence, but Pitchfork and NPR agree on an outsider-country parallel to Townes Van Zandt. Others posit a Dylan who managed to evolve favorably with the times, or a Jeff Buckley who’d hung in there.

He’s a hard man to pin down — making his way from a bookstore clerk in Atlanta, to forklift driver, Con Ed roadside power lines crew, census worker, mentor to autistic children over the years, all the while recording from Tuscon to Lubbock, Alberta to San Fran to rural Washington to, now, Kingston, New York. Note one of his records has ever been panned by the critics, and yet, his reputation has never breached the levy that keeps fringe acts from the Starbucks crowd — less one brief glimpse at a broader audience when a particularly bleak and beautiful track made an unexpected appearance in a series of Volkswagen commercials years after its 1998 release.

With collaborators spanning from Calexico to members of Tortoise, the Sea and the Cake, Palace Brothers, Sonic Youth, to Guided by Voices, Sebadoh and more, Buckner has been making excellent music in excellent company for eighteen years, and now from his Kingston, New York home base, he joined the roster of the O+ Kingston 2012 where he performed at Kingston’s Old Dutch Church venue and received long-wanted dental care via O+’s wellness exchange. Since, Buckner has been a welcomed part of the O+ family. Above is his exclusive performance and interview for Kingston’s StudiO+, filmed and produced by O+ partners Evolving Media Network.

A version of this article by Alexandra Marvar appeared in the Kingston NY O+ 2012 program, published by Chronogram

The Art of Medicine for the Medicine of Art

O+ Festival’s First Year, Kingston NY 2010

Founded in Kingston, New York, chapters of O+ (“O Positive,” like the blood type) across America host weekend-long annual art and music festivals where artists and musicians exhibit their talents in exchange for access to medical, vision, dental, and alternative care from art-loving, volunteer doctors and other wellness professionals at the O+ Pop-Up Clinic.

O+ renews and strengthens communities by unifying local artists and musicians, health professionals, property owners, business owners and neighbors under a common goal, and strives to develop a model for all communities in which perpetual access to affordable and reliable wellness services for the working creative community can become a reality.

Contact O+ acting executive director, outreach coordinator, and local artist Joe Concra at if you’re interested in hosting a chapter of O+ Festival in your own community.

O+ mini-documentary created by Maciek Godlewski