Celebrate the healing power of arts, the diversity of individual mindsets, and the strength of the human spirit at the 23rd Annual Mental Health Arts Festival. A longstanding Santa Barbara tradition hosted by the Mental Wellness Center, the festival showcases the work of artists who live with mental illness in an inclusive and uplifting environment. With everything from fine art to simple arts and crafts on display, plus fun activities like karaoke, the free festival is open to visitors and locals alike.
“Each year, the festival gets better,” said Mental Wellness Center CEO Annmarie Cameron. Sales go directly to the artists, but for them, Cameron says, it’s often more about the chance to connect and share their work and personalities with the world. “It’s about the social interaction. The artists tell me that what they get out of it is a different way of being seen in the world — people see them as artists.”
The festival, Cameron said, serves to lessen the stigma around mental illness by treating these people as artists, as well as by demonstrating the often inextricable links between creativity and mental illness, and between self-expression and healing. “We actually like to draw attention to the fact this is something for people who have lived experience [with mental illness]. There shouldn’t be any shame in it; it should be something people are appreciated for and [they should be] applauded for their openness.”
The 23rd Annual Mental Health Arts Festival is at De la Guerra Plaza on Saturday, July 15, 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Visit mentalwellnesscenter.org.