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Victorians living with mental health issues are set to benefit from a transformative new arts program which offers creative expression and social connection for 35 beginner or accomplished artists.

Delivered by SANE Australia’s dedicated arts centre, The Dax Centre, the Studio Dax program will enable people living with psychological trauma, neurodiversity, or mental health issues to participate in art workshops, work towards an exhibition or even sell their art at The Dax Centre.

Studio Dax’s staff artists will develop participants’ creative skills, while also building their confidence and independence, exploring various art mediums from painting and drawing to textiles/soft sculpture and 3D sculpture using paper-based materials.

The program builds on a wealth of Australian and international research which shows that art and creativity can increase social inclusion and mental wellbeing and decrease anxiety and depression1, 2, 3.

The Dax Centre Director, Charmaine Smith, said art can play a significant part in a person’s recovery from trauma or mental health issues.    

“We know that creative expression can transform the lives of people that have lived experience of mental health issues. Studio Dax gives people the opportunity to work with our staff artists over the course of a year, and see where their art journey can take them,” Charmaine Smith said.

“For many participants, their art will be a source of empowerment and independence. And the Studio Dax exhibitions will be a way for the community to see new and inspiring work from the program participants.”

The establishment of Studio Dax has been made possible with funding from the Victorian Government through Creative Victoria, the City of Melbourne and The Vizard Foundation, and participants will be able to use NDIS funding to attend the studio or pay to attend sessions.

“We’re thrilled to see State and local government support for this exciting new initiative, along with philanthropic support which will help transform the lives of Melbournians living with mental ill health through the arts,” Charmaine Smith added.

Minister for Creative Industries, Mr Danny Pearson MP, said:

“Art entertains, challenges and inspires us, but it can also improve our health and wellbeing – and that can change lives.

“Studio Dax will allow people living with mental health issues to build their artistic skills and practice, learn from accomplished mentors, develop new connections, and showcase and sell their work.”

Simon Fortune, Director of The Vizard Foundation, said:

“The Vizard Foundation is delighted to continue its association with the Dax Centre by supporting the establishment of Studio Dax. 

“This initiative will provide wonderful opportunities for the participants to develop their creative skills in a supportive, collaborative and highly professional environment.”

Expressions of Interest for Studio Dax are now open on our website:

  1. Davies et al. 2015, ‘The art of being mentally healthy: a study to quantify the relationship between recreational arts engagement and mental well-being in the general population.’ BMC Public Health (16)15.
  2. All-Party Parliamentary Group on Arts 2017, Health and Wellbeing Inquiry Creative Health: The Arts for Health and Wellbeing.
  3. First reported in: Slawson N 2017, ‘It’s time to recognise the contribution arts can make to health and wellbeing,’ The Guardian, 11 October 2017.
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