On Tuesday, May 10 at 9:30am, The St. Petersburg Arts Alliance (SPAA) will be accepting a ceremonial check from the Community Foundation Tampa Bay & Love IV Lawrence for our project entitled “Murals in Mind. This will be held at the following mural location: Mural entitled: The Blue Hour located at 100 1st Ave. N. The public is invited to attend.
SPAA is working to help address the mental health crisis our community members are experiencing on a daily basis. This includes the stigma attached to asking for and receiving help to treat mental health issues. With Murals in Mind, SPAA wants to shift negative perceptions as well as offer hope and help for day-to-day living.
SPAA understands that Murals in Mind will not cure those who struggle, but it can be a public and daily reminder that there is hope, help, and resources to provide a shift in thinking and action. Over the course of time, we will activate approximately 12 existing murals by adding performance (music, drama, poetry, song, dance) via PixelStix technology. In addition, an ad hoc advisory committee will be formed including mental health professionals and artists, to guide SPAA through this process. We hope to encourage our community to stop, experience the synergy between visual and performing art, while deriving the benefits of shifting their emotions or outlook towards the positive through the healing power of art.
According to the Florida Department of Health, in 2019 the state of Florida experienced just over 407,000 hospitalizations for mental/behavioral health disorders. Pinellas County alone had nearly 1,500 people who attempted suicide with almost 15% of these attempts resulting in deaths. In addition, over 23,000 people in Pinellas County were hospitalized for behavioral and mental health issues. While these numbers are shocking on their own, they do not reflect the entire impact of the historic and ongoing stigma of mental health along with the lack of care and support programs available. According to the Department of Veterans Affairs, Florida has over 1.5 million veterans across the state and 98,000 in Hillsborough and the surrounding counties. The Florida Governor’s Office has recently issued a challenge to stakeholders to increase their suicide prevention efforts and has called for evidence-based practices to help reduce the suicide rate among veterans.
These are just a few examples of the need SPAA is working to address with Murals in Mind. We know that art heals. While there is no one size fits all solution, there is the opportunity to contribute to the conversation about how to help those in need. By creating opportunities for free, accessible public art to be used to provide mental health support and engage people in their own personal healing process, SPAA aims to fill a significant and vital need in our community.
The St. Petersburg Arts Alliance is the umbrella organization serving this vital arts and cultural community. We do so by driving arts-related economic development and funding, advocating for art and artists, educating at all levels and facilitating the growth of our City of the Arts.