Friday, 4 April 2008

We Are More Than Just Business and War: The Arts Matter

Artistic institutions and endeavours are "all things which civilization has a right to be proud of and should sustain, not just business and the ability to make war," says Anton Kuerti. Kuerti was my first guest on March 29th. He is a celebrated Beethoven pianist and composer and is the Artistic Director of Mooredale Concerts. On March 12th he was selected for the Governor General's Lifetime Artistic Achievement Award which he views as "an honour for the artistic community."

He is by no means satisfied with the level of arts funding in Canada, and urges individuals to pressure government to be more generous. In Europe, where there is more of a tradition of government funding for the arts Kuerti says that "it is taken as a matter of course that cities which have any pride whatsoever are going to have orchestras, operas, concerts, art museums, libraries..."

He dispells the myth that the arts do not contribute to the economy by pointing out that for every tax dollar given, more tax dollars are returned to the economy as an off-shoot of the expenses incurred.


Janet Jackson, Mark Twain, Angelina Jolie, Karen Kain, Abraham Lincoln

What do these people have in common?
Answer: Mood disorders (depression or bipolar illness)

According to my second guest, grade 11 student Joanne Courneyea, mood disorders are "still a touchy subject" with youth. Joanne is a student at North Toronto Collegiate Institute and is the coordinator of Stop the Stigma Week, a joint initiative with The Mood Disorders Association of Ontario (MDAO), where she is also a placement student.

Stop the Stigma Week
is in its second year at North Toronto, and was created by past North Toronto students to raise awareness and debunk some myths about depression and bipolar illness especially as it impacts youth. Student studies last year showed that more grade 11 and 12 North Toronto students knew about the illnesses than those in the lower grades. Raising awareness is significant in helping parents and peers know how the symptoms can manifest themselves in youth, and also in normalizing mental illnesses as just another health issue.

Besides a school assembly featuring a video of Olympic gold medalist Mark Tewksbury talking about his battle with depression as well as a speaker who will talk about bipolor illness and psychosis, the week (May 5th -9th) also includes an art gallery of work expressing feelings around mood disorders, a writer's cafe, a lunch time mediation session lead by the school's social worker, a drumming facilitator, and a student-produced documentary regarding support for students with mood disorders.

For more information about Stop the Stigma Week or The Mood Disorders Association of Ontario please contact:

Mood Disorders Association of Ontario
36 Eglinton Ave. West, Suite 602
Toronto, ON M4R 1A1
Tel: (416)486-8046
Fax: (416)486-8127

Anton Kuerti photo from
"It Starts Here, a Guide to Mood Disorders for Teens"
(published by MDAO)

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