Greenville, SC – On Friday, November 6, Greenville Center for Creative Arts (GCCA) will be recognized as the first Stigma-Free Zone in South Carolina by Walt’s Waltz, an Upstate-based non-profit organization that serves as a megaphone and compass for mental health support, education, and change. This event is a part of the First Fridays gallery crawl.
“Walt’s Waltz is working to liberate people who wrestle with anxiety and depression from stigma—whether societal, cultural, religious, or personal—that could lead to alienation and suicide,” explains Walt’s Waltz founder Susan Crooks, whose own son, Walt, died by suicide in 2019. “The elimination of stigma will enable community members to ask for help when needed so recovery can begin, hope can be inspired, and tragedies can be avoided.”
The Stigma-Free Zone designation from Walt’s Waltz acknowledges GCCA for taking steps to eliminate the stigma associated with mental health conditions. The art center will serve as a safe and welcoming place that allows community members to get the mental health resources they need without judgment. This is vital considering that one in four adults experiences a mental health condition within their lifetime, and many do not seek help because they fear shame or judgment from those around them.
“This is a cause that is close to our hearts because we know many creative individuals whose lives have been impacted by mental health challenges,” says Kim Fabian, GCCA’s executive director. “Through this designation, GCCA will have the opportunity to offer effective ways to reduce the stigma and encourage those who are affected to seek services and support. We hope this will raise awareness of local resources so no one within our community needs to feel hopeless or alone.”
As part of the First Friday activities, GCCA Brandon Fellow alumnus Nicks Burns will exhibit an 8’x8’ portrait of Walt Crooks. Attendees will also have the opportunity to contribute to a large community art project. Participants will add handwritten words of hope, empowerment, and compassion, as well as an adjective that describes the feeling a person might experience when faced with mental health stigma. These words will be burned into a large piece of wood as a permanent reminder that speaking out reduces shame. This artwork will then be used and displayed in the state’s future Stigma-Free Zones.
First Friday at GCCA will take place on Nov. 6 with expanded hours from 1:00-8:00 p.m. Admission is free, but all visitors must register in advance on EventBrite at this link for a one-hour time slot. For safety, masks are required and capacity is limited to ensure social distancing. The schedule of activities includes:
1:00-8:00 p.m.: Participation in Walt’s Waltz Art Installation
Walt Crooks Portrait Exhibit
Sign-ups for a free Mental Health First Aid Course
Main Gallery Exhibition – Constellations
1st Floor Community Gallery Exhibition – Cecile Martin
2nd Floor Community Gallery Exhibition – Linda Quinn Furman
Virtual Poetry Readings – Glenis Redmond
5:00-8:00 p.m.: Visit with GCCA Brandon Fellows & Studio Artists
5:30-7:30 p.m.: Musical Performance – Songwriter Lana Guy
6:30-6:45 p.m.: Remarks and Recognition of GCCA’s Stigma-Free Zone Designation
For more information, call GCCA at 864-735-3948.
Founded by a dedicated group of local artists and philanthropists, the Greenville Center for Creative Arts opened in May 2015 as a community hub for the visual arts. A non-profit organization, its mission is to enrich the cultural fabric of the community through visual arts promotion, education, and inspiration. GCCA provides arts education to more than 900 people each year, as well as showcases local artists, and nurtures appreciation and enjoyment in the arts. It houses artists’ studios, an emerging artists’ fellowship, exhibitions, free community programs, and classes for all ages. For more information, visit www.artcentergreenville.org, call 864-735-3948, or check out GCCA @artcentergvl on Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube.
About Walt’s Waltz
Walt’s Waltz is an Upstate South Carolina-based non-profit organization with regional and national reach that aims to end the stigma associated with mental health conditions through educational training, promotion of mental health screenings, and the establishment of safe spaces for open communication in the workplace, educational institutions, military, and other social settings. To find out more, visit www.waltswaltz.com.