A Benzie County community partnership addresses trauma and wellness through music and storytelling at Frankfort’s Garden Theater and Oliver Center for the Arts.

The Stories That Heal project comes to fruition this coming week in Frankfort as a unique community partnership demonstrates the power of the arts to address trauma, recovery and resiliency. A community performance will be held at the Garden Theater on Sunday, May 15 at 4 p.m. Earlier in the week, an artist talk with director and composer Molly Sturges is slated for Tuesday, May 10 at 2 p.m. at Oliver Art Center. Both events are free to the public.

Stories That Heal is a music, storytelling and community wellbeing project sponsored as an Arts Midwest Community Partners project through the Northwest Michigan Arts & Culture Network in collaboration with Interlochen Public Radio, the Garden Theater, Benzie Shores Library, Grow Benzie, Benzonia Library, BACN, Oliver Arts Center, Benzie-based mental health providers, songwriter and musician Tim Jones, and Frankfort artist and composer Molly Sturges.

During the past six weeks, Stories That Heal gathered community partners and intergenerational participants to harness the power of the arts to raise awareness and engagement about mental health challenges and community wellness. Story gathering, music creation, performance and participatory creative experiences were used to begin healing journeys while also raising broader awareness for such critical issues as suicide prevention, addiction recovery, generational trauma, systemic trauma and more. Components have included a pop-up choir that met weekly at the Garden, an open call for storytellers and writers, a children’s “power song” workshop, storytelling workshops and listening circles.

All led to composing music and discussion that will be shared at the Stories That Heal Community Performance on Sunday, May 15 at 4 p.m. at the Garden Theater in Frankfort. Admission is free. A follow-up discussion and pizza will follow. Music will be performed by Stonefolk, Tim Jones and Molly Sturges as well as members of the pop-up choir, local singers and project participants.

Stories That Heal Event Poster

Project partner Interlochen Public Radio is producing a four-part podcast series that will showcase the stories, issues and musical work created during the process.

The Northwest Michigan Arts & Culture Network received one of 12 Community Partner grants awarded in Michigan by Arts Midwest and Michigan Arts & Culture Council. The Community Partners program goal is to encourage community collaborations with artists and culture bearers to explore local issues, where collaborative art making is integral to daily lives and is valued as a tool for community development. The awards by Arts Midwest and MACC were funded through the National Endowment for the Arts with American Recovery Program funding. Additional funding was received by the Grand Traverse Regional Community Foundation.

The Northwest Michigan Arts & Culture Network is the regional arts services agency serving artists, arts and cultural organizations and creative community projects in a 10-county region. The Network serves Antrim, Benzie, Charlevoix, Emmet, Grand Traverse, Kalkaska, Leelanau, Manistee, Missaukee and Wexford counties.