‘Celebrating Creativity’ event aims to promote mental health


Burlington’s Me2/Orchestra, the world’s only classical music organization created for instrumentalists with mental illness and those who support them, will headline Clara Martin Center’s evening of the arts Saturday in Randolph. Provided photo

A mental health facility marking a 50th anniversary might be expected to invite the public to a dutiful if not dour science or history symposium.

The Upper Valley’s Clara Martin Center, in contrast, is getting creative.

The nonprofit organization that serves Orange County and surrounding communities is inviting the public to a “Celebrating Creativity in Mental Health, Wellness and Recovery” evening of the arts on Saturday at Randolph’s Chandler Music Hall.

“We didn’t want a highfalutin affair,” spokeswoman Heidi Allen Goodrich said. “We want this to be accessible to anyone and everyone.”

For a $10 advance ticket or $15 at-the-door admission, the public can partake of an art show and reading at 6:30 p.m., followed by a performance by Vermont’s Me2/Orchestra at 7:30 p.m.

The first part of the program will feature more than 30 area artists who are clients or supporters, offering 50 works of painting, photography, collage, sculpture and writing.

“There’s a wide range of mediums,” Allen Goodrich said.

The second half will showcase a Burlington-based orchestra that promotes itself as the world’s only classical music organization created for instrumentalists with mental illness and those who support them.

Music director Ronald Braunstein — onetime conductor of the San Francisco and Tokyo symphonies, Israel Sinfonietta and Oslo Philharmonic — founded the Vermont group after he was diagnosed with bipolar disorder.

The event will celebrate the 50th anniversary of the former Orange County Mental Health Services (its current name, honoring founder Clara Martin, came in 1993), formed as one of 10 mental health agencies organized by state statute in 1966.

“Our roots stem from local clergy and social service professionals who saw a need for supportive counseling services in the community as an alternative to placement of persons at the Vermont State Hospital,” the center’s website says.

People seeking advance tickets can call the Chandler box office at 802-728-6464 or order online.

Clara Martin Center plans on capping its anniversary with a “Color Splash” 5K run/walk in May that promises to douse participants with multihued powder to increase awareness of its mental health and addiction recovery services.

“We’re doing many things to celebrate,” Allen Goodrich said. “It’s a great opportunity for people to show off their talents in a way they haven’t been able to before.”

Kevin O'Connor

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  • Ethan Rogati

    Awesome. As a photographer-in-perpetual-training who also deals with Bipolar Disorder, I’d love to see more programs like this.

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