Networking Between the Creative Arts Therapies: How Brooklyn Developed a Working Model of Cooperation to Promote the Arts in Therapy
Dr. Peter Jampel, DA, MT-BC, LCAT
Founding Chair, Brooklyn CAT Committee
The setting was spectacular: the Old Courthouse in the Borough President's mansion in Brooklyn. The occasion was fitting: to celebrate through song the life of Sonia Brodsky, a musician and pioneer in the movement to form a national organization for family members who had relatives who suffered from mental illness. The timing seemed right: October, 1997 when national efforts among national CAT associations had brought me back to the National Coalition of Creative Arts Therapy Associations (NCATA) as Chair to help promote planning for another national conference. The participants were in place: The Baltic Street Band, a consumer performing group, had been invited to play for this distinguished gathering of dignitaries and family members to mark the occasion. We decided to play the song “The Girl That I Married” in honor of the request made to us by Sonia's husband who told us how this song had been played at their wedding so many years before. It was a very special moment when all these things seemed to converge into an event that somehow seemed to portend something larger. And so it did.
The Brooklyn Creative Arts Therapy Committee was born from that moment. The Brooklyn Mental Health Council encouraged us to become one of its subcommittees under the guidance and creative energy of Dr. Dimitra Risueno, a Deputy Director for services in Brooklyn in the then City Department of Mental Health, Substance Abuse and Alcoholism Services. Eventually we became a standing committee and a model of organizational activity promoting public education and access to CAT services throughout the borough. Yearly arts-in-therapy festivals developed starting with the one at the Baltic Street Clinic and eventually moving to other sites throughout Brooklyn. We developed the kind of strong working relationship between CAT providers and consumers that modeled how partnerships can be forged by the process of healing and recovery through the arts.
The lesson that that I took away from this was simple: go local. Now twelve years later NCATA has still not been able to stage another national conference but yearly CAT Festivals have become an honored tradition in Brooklyn. We continue to honor Sonia Brodsky's memory by bestowing each year the Brodsky Award to a person who has significantly contributed to the humanities through the arts. Sometimes it is easier to network on behalf of local arts-in-therapy issues than it is to foster working alliances on a more diffuse national level. It is with pride that we now offer this website as a source of information about our work and as a model of how to join together for the collective good of the community.
Peter Jampel, founder receiving a Service Appreciation Award at the Borough Hall Art Show and reception with Marty Markowitz, Brooklyn Borough President in 2005.
Award given by Barbara Bornmann on behalf of the CAT committee.