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Pivot Point program blends art, mindfulness, mental health support

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — To meet the evolving needs of the community during the COVID-19 pandemic, Steamboat Creates’ newest program has gone through some major updates, including its theme, format and timeline, and it’s ready to welcome you to participate from wherever you may be.

Pivot Point is a series of free, weekly creative sessions led by local creatives and mental health professionals. The program seeks to create a safe, supportive space to explore creativity and work through uncertainty, anger, depression or fear, working toward mastering coping mechanisms and strengthening one’s sense of personal empowerment. 

Originally, the program was set to take place in person in fall 2020, with a focus on survivors of sexual assault and their allies. The idea had been inspired in part by the “In Our Shoes” series, a monthslong project combining reporting, art and discussion, presented by Steamboat Pilot & Today, Advocates of Routt County, Young Bloods Collective and Steamboat Creates, as well as Steamboat Creates Executive Director Kim Keith’s experiences with Rangely’s TANK Center for Sonic Arts.

The intention was for the program to eventually be replicated to focus on different needs, including those of veterans and people in bereavement. 

But in the past month and a half, as the scale of the pandemic emerged and it became clear that spring 2020 was going to present challenges unlike any the community had ever experienced, the creators of Pivot Point decided to redesign the program to be as helpful in the immediate circumstances as possible. 

The spring series of Pivot Point welcomes anyone who could use community, creativity and coping strategies, for whatever reason. The series designed for survivors of sexual assault will still take place this fall.

Spring classes will take place entirely over Zoom, which participants may access by video, by audio only or by calling in by phone, which allows participants to be as anonymous as they wish. Each class opens and closes with a short mindfulness exercise, with the main event being a 45-minute creative activity. Creative activities include mandala creations, poetry, expressive writing, sonic arts and dance, and all can be done with basic supplies.

“Pivot Point is for people to participate without any prior artistic experience,” said Steamboat Creates Program Director Sylvie Piquet. “There is zero expectation for what is created — it’s all about the process.”

Upcoming Pivot Point programs

Each Pivot Point Zoom meeting takes place 3:30 to 4:30 p.m. Thursdays, beginning April 30 and running to May 28. Each class is free and open to the community.

  • April 30: Mandala Creation with Suzy Holloran
  • May 7: Black-Out Poetry with Jo Anne Grace
  • May 14: Expressive Writing with Dagny McKinley
  • May 21: Sonic Arts with Samantha Wade
  • May 28: Dance with Scott Goodhart

Visit steamboatcreates.org/pivot-point-creative-tools-for-personal-empowerment for more information and materials needed.

The process of each activity is designed to help participants to slow down, embrace mindfulness, balance their thoughts, strengthen resilience and learn creative tools for personal empowerment. A mental health professional will be available at each session, ready to connect with participants and provide resources.

“Artistic expression activates part of your brain to create a new perspective on what’s going on,” said Dr. Jo Anne Grace, who works as a hospice chaplain and also focuses on brain health and emotional mental health issues. Grace will be teaching the Black Out Poetry session May 7.

“These exercises are designed to allow a person to integrate the left and right sides of your brain, and to confirm the wisdom that’s deep inside you,” Grace said.

“Through Pivot Point’s creative activities, we want participants to find opportunities to transform the weight and challenge of this time into hope and find creative coping skills for personal empowerment to take flight,” Piquet said.

This idea is symbolized by the program’s logo — an anchor that’s transforming into a flock of birds.

Pivot Point classes are scheduled for 3:30 to 4:30 p.m. Thursdays, beginning April 30. The series is set to continue through May 28, but Piquet notes there’s potential for the program to continue into the summer, whether online or in person, depending on the state of the pandemic, community participation and program funding.

Pivot Point is free to participants. Creative instructors and mental health professionals are paid through an Arts in Society grant that Pivot Point was awarded. Steamboat Creates continues to seek grants and accept donations to provide Pivot Point programming. 

In July, Pivot Point is set to take the form of an exhibit at the Depot Art Center. Entitled “Hope,” the show will display pieces created by Pivot Point participants, representing spirit, courage and the transition from being wounded to restored.

Learn more about Pivot Point and find the full series schedule at steamboatcreates.org/pivot-point-creative-tools-for-personal-empowerment.

Julia Ben-Asher is a contributing writer for Steamboat Pilot & Today.


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