Steamboat Creates to launch project focusing on LGBTQ community and mental health

An art book designed in the 2020 Pivot Point project. (Sylvie Piquet/courtesy photo)

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Sylvie Piquet has turned to art and creative expression as a way to support Routt County residents throughout the pandemic.

That evolved into Piquet wanting to help tell stories of underrepresented populations in the community, particularly of LGBTQ individuals. Piquet’s forthcoming project, part of the Pivot Point series by Steamboat Creates, will be a collaboration with mental health providers and creative artists.

“We were all experiencing this pandemic, and that was coming with feelings of stress and uncertainty and isolation,” Piquet said. “This is bringing a different group of folks to the table.”

While still in its early phases, the project will be a series of various artistic programs, from September to December, to bring awareness to mental health issues specifically impacting the LGBTQ community. The Pivot Point projects were made possible by a grant from Arts in Society and NextFifty Initiative, two groups that work to support underrepresented groups in Colorado.

Other members of the project’s task force said they felt focusing on the LGBTQ community was particularly important because they believe the community has very little representation in the Yampa Valley.

“It’s not difficult to say that generally speaking, under-representation is a big problem in the valley, and basically, any group that isn’t a cis gender, straight, white person in the Valley might have a hard time,” said Norma Ryan, a task force member. “I think we’ve done a great job in representing women, but when it comes to other groups, we have a lot of work to do. I think Pivot Point is a great way to start that conversation and continue it for underrepresented voices.”

Kim Keith, executive director of Steamboat Creates, said the project is also intended to provide happiness and support for people struggling due to COVID-19 isolation and grief.

“Last year, when we started it, so many people were isolated and having a tough time with the pandemic,” Keith said. “The fear, the uncertainty, the isolation, it was our way of giving back to the community and providing kind of a vehicle for empowerment self-expression through creative tools.”

Pivot Point will include art in several different forms, including writing, painting, drawing, dancing and other means for those interested to express themselves.

“We wanted to have a good mix of all the different genres of art,” Keith said. “Some people don’t consider themselves an artist if they can’t draw, but at the same time, they’re moving and dancing.”

The mental health component is intended to help people work through their struggles with a professional while using art as a healthy, creative outlet.

“There is a need in our community for connection and access to mental health services and removing the stigma of mental health services through drawing or writing,” Keith said. “It removes the stigma of asking for help, and it’s under the guise of creativity.”

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