Maya Angelou said, “You can’t use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have.” That well of creativity is what Elli Moody wants to inspire in every person participating in the Chorus art therapy program.

What is Ability Arts?

Ability Art's Elli with customer and artist, Brian

Ability Art’s Elli with customer and artist, Brian

Elli is a social support group facilitator and runs the Ability Arts program, part of Chorus Disability Services offering. It is designed to provide an opportunity for people living with disability to become part of an artistic community.

“I think of everyone that comes to our group as an artist,” Elli says.

“It’s a way to tap into creative abilities, whatever their other abilities are.

“I think it’s a really great equaliser, doing something creative.”

The program features a variety of different art forms and projects for participants. Activities include working in a fully equipped pottery studio (complete with a kiln), dance, music, drawing, and painting, to name a few.

Customers work on individual projects and there are also group projects.

“We’re really lucky,” Elli says.

“We have a big building with a fully equipped art room.

“We tend to come up with group projects, or people will come in with their own ideas and we just facilitate.

“We do a lot of group mosaic projects and things like that where people are collaborating, which I think is really, really great.”

While art is the focus, there’s also a lot of socialising.

“It’s very easy to chat to each other when you’re busy doing something,” Elli says.

“It has a really nice social aspect to it which is very important, as well.”

Ability Arts customer and artist, Cushla

What are the benefits to participating in Ability Arts?

Elli knows people like to be creative, even if they don’t recognise it in themselves.

She believes creativity is a part of human nature. Unfortunately, not all people living with disability have an opportunity to fulfil their creative spirit.

“I think everyone needs a creative outlet,” Elli says.

“Whether it’s cooking or decorating or gardening, you’re being creative.”

It’s common for people in the Arts Ability program to experience benefits to their mood while working on art projects.

“We have mental health customers who come in and they show up having a really bad day,” Elli says.

“They sit down quietly with some clay or paints or a project and it can turn their day from being a really bad day to being a good day.”

The Chorus staff know that satisfaction is derived in making things, which is why the focus for Ability Arts is on being productive.

“I think art therapy can sometimes be completely about the process of creating, and we definitely do that,” Elli says.

“We have the process of praising, but there’s always an end result as well.

“I think it’s really important to have something to show at the end of it that customers can be proud of.”

But there’s an added bonus for arts therapy with Chorus. A lot of the extra activities in the program are self-funded through selling artwork, which is great for artists’confidence and their self-esteem.

Ability Arts customers and artists Brian and Matt with their artwork

Ability Arts customers and artists Brian and Matt

“If they sell something to someone, they’re so happy,” Elli says.

All Chorus Arts Ability customers are NDIS funded but they have the ability to raise money through selling their artwork or taking on commissions. This provides additional funds for social activities and outings like holiday parties or for specialised workshops.

“Last year we had lots of online auctions of our artwork and that paid for a big Christmas party. There’s an obvious benefit coming back to customers from what they’re doing,” Elli says.

“We have an annual exhibition which gives us an income. It gives us a lot of publicity and it’s something to work towards.

“We’re not just working in a vacuum for no reason. There’s a purpose at the end of it, which is great,” Elli says

Who is eligible?

Anyone receiving NDIS funding with a plan including group social support can attend art therapy with Chorus. The Ability Arts Mandurah hub and The Corner Shop are located at 6 Cumberland Street, Mandurah, and are open Monday through Friday from 9.00am – 3.00pm.

For more information on Ability Arts and our disability support services, get in touch on 1800 264 268 or at chorus.org.au.

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