TRURO, N.S. – A brightly painted bus may soon be travelling throughout the Maritimes, carrying art, music, and awareness about mental health.
Outsider Insight, a non-profit organization created by artists who are mental health consumers, is currently moving forward with plans to buy a former school bus.
“We thought about renting a space to set up for the summer, but at the end, money would be gone in rent,” said Gavin Quinn, who formed the group almost five years ago. “With a bus, we can travel to festivals, sell our merchandise and have music jams.”
Fundraising is taking place to buy a bus, which is currently in Cape Breton, and design plans are being created.
“We want to paint a Kraken on one side, and the Outsider Insight tag on the other side,” said Quinn.
“We could go to folk, rock, blues festivals. Music festivals are a good fit because music is often used to help with mental health, and music is art. A lot of it is about raising awareness.”
The bus would carry artwork created by Outsider Insight members, as well as the group’s branded merchandise, and offer it for sale.
“People recognize the brand now,” said Quinn. “I see people I don’t recognize wearing our clothing, and that’s amazing.”
The Outsider Insight clothing line is available at the Truro Farmers’ Market, and LouLou’s, with children’s items at Enchanted Forest. It will soon be possible to order the clothing online.
Mike Francis, chair of the Outsider Insight board, says a bus will help spread the group’s messages.
“Not much catches your eye and makes you more aware than a school bus with a wicked paint job,” he said.
“We’re currently looking for volunteers to help with our awareness campaign, as well as fundraise for our bus project. Volunteering could be anything from spending a Saturday or two at the farmers’ market with Gavin, talking to people and selling our clothing line, right up to joining our board of directors. We would really love to have someone join us who has event management, marketing or bookkeeping experience under their belt, but most of all we just want people who care deeply about helping others. “
The organization formed as an art collective, supporting artists living with mental illness, in 2013, in Halifax. It relocated to Truro, and became a registered non-profit group with a board of directors in November 2017.
It has been able to support other groups, including The Truro Chapter of Autism Nova Scotia, Communities Addressing Suicide Together and the Schizophrenia Society of Nova Scotia.
One of the upcoming events is the Broken Deck Project show, where paintings will be done on broken skateboards. The group is happy to accept any donations of broken skateboards.
For more information, check out www.outsiderinsightproject.ca or Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/outsiderinsightproject/