Talking about mental health is always difficult, but organizers of a special program scheduled for next March are hopeful that an evening of expressive art forms will provide a more comfortable and entertaining forum to address the subject.
Living Proof, a joint effort by The Mental Health Association of Westchester (MHA), the Lagond Music School and Music & Miles: Changing Minds, will feature music, dance, art, photography, poetry, essays and monologues performed and written by artists who have personal stories detailing mental health issues about themselves, friends or family.
The evening, scheduled for Saturday, Mar. 10, 2018, at the Chappaqua Performing Arts Center, will be a fundraiser for MHA of Westchester and The Miles Applebaum Music Scholarship Fund at Lagond Music School. It will be in memory of Applebaum, a 21-year-old Armonk resident and talented musician who committed suicide in October 2014.
“We all deal with our challenges. Some have fewer than others but we all deal with it because it’s all relative to us and it’s just all encompassing,” said Shari Applebaum, Miles’ mother who started Music & Miles: Changing Minds following her son’s death.
“So whatever we’re dealing with in life, that we know that we have the strength and courage to get through it to the other side and then to give hope and healing to others who are then going through their own challenges to say, ‘Look, here I am. I’ve been in your shoes, I’ve walked in your shoes, but we could all come out the other side together.’”
Artists have been submitting entries to be considered for a performance spot in Living Proof. Applebaum said there’s still time this week to fill out applications and submit at www.musicandmiles.org. The listed deadline is Wednesday, Nov. 15, although if entries come in a day or two late they will still be accepted, Applebaum said.
Musicians and dancers must forward a demo tape of their audition while submissions of a poem, two monologues or five pieces of artwork or photography are required for those art forms. A steering committee will choose the entrants that will appear on stage for Living Proof. Applicants selected for the performance will be notified.
In addition to the artwork, an explanation of why the artist has chosen the work that was submitted and how it fits into the theme of the show is also required.
Miles was a guitar student at Lagond Music School in Elmsford and later the Boyer School of Music and Dance at Temple University. He also studied abroad, but his education was slowed by bouts of trauma and depression, which was linked to post-traumatic stress disorder, Applebaum said.
Applebaum, now a suicide bereavement support specialist who has been working for MHA of Westchester, said she wanted to help others who have faced mental health issues. The arts is a powerful vehicle to change and improve people’s lives and the best way to honor Miles, she said.
“I wanted to talk to continue the conversation that we can change something that we’re stuck in, we can change our negative thoughts to make them more positive,” Applebaum said. “To keep going in life no matter what obstacles we face. That’s what Miles would have wanted and we could show that through music.”
The first major fundraising event undertaken by Music & Miles was in April 2016 at the Capitol Theatre in Port Chester featuring a reception and a performance by the group Lettuce. Money raised went toward scholarships for two high school students to the Lagond Music School.
Proceeds for Living Proof will be split between MHA of Westchester and the scholarship fund to provide budding musicians who might not be able to afford to attend Lagond Music School.
It will also let people know who suffer from mental health issues that they are not alone.
For more information about the event and how to submit entries, visit www.musicandmiles.org. Tickets for Living Proof will go on sale Dec. 1 through Ticketmaster. Check the website for ticket prices when sales commence.