Scattergood Foundation

Advancing Innovative Strategies for Change in Behavioral Health

Next to Normal Community Engagement Project

Grant Period: 
June, 2011 to May, 2012
Project Overview
Mission: 

Community Engagement Project

Grant Project Description: 

The Next to Normal project bridged the worlds of art and behavioral health in a new and exciting way. Based on the concept that art can not only entertain, but convey important messages to the community, this project moved Broadway in a direction that promotes education, understanding and community outreach. Inspired by the content of the show, we sought to create an open environment where mental health issues can be discussed in the context of the musical, without fear of stigmatization or judgment.

Actual Project Outcomes: 

The Next to Normal Community Engagement Project turned out to be a great success.

  • 56 guests attended a pre-show lecture; 65 stayed for the post-show discussion.  The pre- and post-show activities convened segments of the community that do not usually interact.  Guests included: city policy-makers; health care providers; philanthropic leaders; loyal Broadway patrons; individuals suffering with bipolar disorder; and students from the Drexel School of Public Health, Penn Medicine, and the University of the Arts.
  • Total attendance for the run of Next to Normal was 10,714 individuals, with 4,379 individual ticket buyers purchasing one or more tickets.  Of the 4,379 ticket buyers, 1,170 had not purchased tickets to any other 2010-2011 Kimmel Center performance.
  • The project facilitated honest, provocative interaction about mental health issues, and post-event feedback was overwhelmingly supportive, including the testimonial below from Sharon W. Goodill, Ph.D and Chairperson of the Department of Creative Arts Therapies at Drexel University:

“Thank you again for including the Drexel creative arts therapies department in this visionary exploration of art, mental health, and community awareness.  The musical was of course, moving and superb, and the discussions so important in that you brought together a unique mix of voices and perspectives speaking about treatment and social issues.”

Project Inquiry and Insight

1. What is the underlying theory of change for creating a positive community impact that guides the intended outcomes of your funded project? Click here to read our response.

Through our Kimmel Center Presents and Broadway Series, the Kimmel Center, Inc. (KCI) provides a rich diversity of programming to the region.  With a firm belief that artistic quality is the foremost arbiter of what is presented, KCI presents a wide variety of genres including classical, Broadway, jazz, world, pop, dance, hip hop, new music, gospel and children’s attractions. With over 1,000,000 people attending events at KCI managed facilities each year (including Resident Company performances and rentals), the Kimmel Center is ranked among the four most widely attended cultural institutions in the Greater Philadelphia region.

By attracting so many people to our performances and events, the Kimmel Center is in a unique position to bring together different population segments around relevant artistic, cultural, and socio-political topics, which might not elsewhere happen. This understanding is the basis of our theory of change for creating a positive community impact which has guided us in our most recent Community Engagement Project with Next to Normal.

An important part of the Kimmel Center’s mission is to engage and serve a diverse audience from throughout the Greater Philadelphia region.  In response to this goal, we have been exploring new ways of engaging the community through education, outreach and artistic programming.  By engaging people in these ways, we intend to create awareness and educate people on culturally relevant issues and topics. In the long-term, we hope to leverage our resources and the content of our performances to achieve the levels of diversity that are reflected in the beautiful mosaic of cultures and ethnicities represented in the Greater Philadelphia Region.

2. How does the work of your funded project address your theory of change? Click here to read our response.

Winner of three 2009 Tony Awards, including Best Score, Next to Normal is a play that depicts a family struggling with their mother’s worsening bipolar disorder. The provocative musical was presented at the Academy of Music from Tuesday, June 21 through Sunday, June 26. Next to Normal has been praised for its unflinchingly honest portrayal of mental health issues, avoiding the common tendencies to either criminalize or romanticize people suffering from these issues. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, approximately 5.7 million adults suffer from bipolar disorder throughout the United States. The innovative partnership between the Scattergood Foundation, the Kimmel Center, and the Penn Center for Bioethics bridged the worlds of art and science and brought together varying perspectives on mental health. On Wednesday, June 22, the Scattergood Foundation sponsored: • A pre-show lecture with Dr. Arthur Caplan, Director, Center for Bioethics at the University of Pennsylvania (biography attached). The lecture provided medical and ethical context for the show, which immediately followed. • A post-show panel discussion with Dr. Arthur Caplan, Next to Normal cast members, and Dr. Arthur C. Evans, Director of Philadelphia’s Department of Behavioral Health and Mental Retardation Services (biography attached). The panel answered questions surrounding the medical and thematic content presented on stage in Next to Normal. o Because the post-show discussion contained sensitive topics, Kimmel Center acquired technology (“Mosio”) that allowed guests to ask questions anonymously via a text messaging system. The technology also allowed us to invite the community at large to ask panel questions (via social media) prior to the event. o Cast members on panel: Alice Ripley, a Tony Award winner and the star of Next to Normal, was scheduled to join the post-show panel. Unfortunately, Ripley was unable to attend due to a sudden illness (which also kept her from performing for the remainder of the show’s run). Four other cast members stepped in and joined the panel for the first twenty minutes of the discussion. They were: Emma Hunton (daughter “Natalie”); Perry Sherman (boyfriend “Henry”); Pearl Sun (lead “Diana” understudy); and Caitlyn Kinnunen (daughter “Natalie” understudy). • In addition to sponsoring the events, the Scattergood Foundation bought 75 premium tickets and funded a full-page advertisement in Showcase, the Kimmel Center’s program book (attached). o The tickets were distributed to students from the Drexel University Creative Arts Therapies Department; students from the Penn Center for Bioethics; medical and behavioral health professionals; philanthropic leaders; and city officials. o A means of social marketing, the ad in Showcase encouraged all audience members to reach out if they were moved by the contents of the show. It provided contact information for resources at Penn Medicine and the National Alliance on Mental Illness. Through Next to Normal, we were able to bring many people of varying backgrounds together and we provided a unique opportunity for more meaningful dialogue to occur around mental health issues.

3. Has your funded project produced the outcomes you intended? How do you know? Click here to read our response.

The Next to Normal Community Engagement Project turned out to be a great success. Below are some highlights of the project:

 

  • The project facilitated honest, provocative interaction about mental health issues. At one point in the post-show discussion, friendly, thought-provoking debate ensued between the medical community (Dr. Caplan) and his government counterpart (Dr. Evans). The discussion demonstrated how themes in the arts touch our everyday lives. Post-event feedback was overwhelmingly supportive.

 

  • 56 guests attended the pre-show lecture while 65 stayed for the post-show discussion. The Kimmel Center leveraged its unique position as Philadelphia’s regional performing arts center to convene segments of the community that do not usually interact.  Guests included city policy-makers; health care providers; philanthropic leaders; loyal Broadway patrons; individuals suffering with bipolar disorder; and students from Drexel School of Public Health, Penn Medicine, and University of the Arts.

 

  • The total attendance for the show’s run was 10,714 individuals, with 4,379 individual ticket buyers buying one or more tickets. Of the 4,379 ticket buyers, 1,170 buyers did not purchase tickets to any other 2010-2011 Kimmel Center performance, illustrating the show’s ability to bring a unique audience to the Kimmel Center and the relevance of the show’s content within the Philadelphia community. 

 

  • Kimmel Center used traditional and new media to bring visibility to the innovative partnership between the Kimmel Center and the Scattergood Foundation and engaged the public in what was otherwise a private event.

 

  • Thor Steingraber, Senior Vice President of Institutional Strategy and Planning, was interviewed by KYW’s Karen Phillips on June 19.

 

  • Mike Fitzpatrick, Executive Director of The National Association for Mental Illness (NAMI), guest blogged on the Kimmel Center’s new Tumblr blog. The post reflects an on-going social media and viral marketing effort to bring Kimmel Center’s institutional messaging directly to our fans. Fitzpatrick’s post was “reblogged” 12 times – a record for the organization – and asked followers to share questions for the Scattergood-sponsored panel discussion, via Mosio technology. (Blog attached.)  

 

Below is a Testimonial from one of the event participants:

 

“…Thank you again for including the Drexel creative arts therapies department in this visionary exploration of art, mental health, and community awareness. The musical was of course, moving and superb, and the discussions so important in that you brought together a unique mix of voices and perspectives speaking about treatment and social issues...”

Sharon W. Goodill, Ph.D., BC-DMT, NCC, LPC

Chairperson, Department of Creative Arts Therapies

College of Nursing and Health Professions

Drexel University, Philadelphia

4. What have been the unintended outcomes of your funded project, both positive and negative? Click here to read our response.

The unintended outcomes of this project have centered on our realization that there are many non-profit organizations in the Greater Philadelphia region that would like to be engaged in projects such as Next to Normal or In the Heights where the intersection between the arts and social service agencies can be further examined. This type of collaboration between the arts and social services has the potential to generate new audiences for Kimmel Center programming from individuals that currently might not think of the Kimmel Center as a place to engage in art. This type of collaboration also gives social service agencies the opportunity to build awareness of the social issues that are affecting the community. For future projects we intend to engage our partnering organizations in a much deeper way that builds upon our success with Next to Normal and In the Heights.

5. Based on both the anticipated and unintended outcomes you have achieved, how would you design the project differently in the future? Click here to read our response.

The overall success of the project confirmed the ability of a Broadway shows to act as a vehicle to address important issues in the community. Broadway outreach programs highlight the social value of the performing arts and bring attention to the real-life content presented at the Kimmel Center campus. Because this is a new initiative that we plan to continue, it’s important we consider the project strengths and weaknesses so future programs will continue to improve. • During the post-event debrief, we saw that it might be more effective to break events like this apart. Future projects might include an opening night kick off event with a follow-up event later in the show’s run. By breaking the project into parts, this also allows invited guests to come to one evening if they cannot make the other, widening our reach. • With careful planning, there is the potential for a more structured experience for our guests as well as greater visibility and marketing efforts leading up to the event. o Our partnerships with outside community organizations, such as Penn Medicine and NAMI, were more productive than we ever could have imagined. In future projects, it would be worthwhile to identify community partners earlier on, ensuring we take full advantage of the resources and visibility they’re willing to offer. o Likewise, the response from our social media platforms was significant after we introduced the new Mosio technology. Our marketing team will continue to look for ways to use social media to create artistic dialogue in the public sphere, thus shining a light on the Kimmel Center and its partners during their community outreach events. Overall, the Kimmel Center feels this project exceeded its goals. Attendees came away with a better understanding of mental health issues and the power of art to educate as well as entertain. The Kimmel Center looks forward to building similar projects in 2011-2012, and is currently exploring engagement initiatives in relation to its 10th Anniversary Celebration world premiere of Can You Hear God Crying? and the March 2012 presentation of West Side Story, as well as other Broadway performances this year.

6. Please list any public, private or nonprofit organizations you have collaborated with on this project.

Public, private or nonprofit organizations collaborators that contributed to the success of this project include: • Our collaboration with the Dr. Arthur Caplan, Director of the Center for Bioethics at the University of Pennsylvania, was a key component of this project’s success. Dr. Caplan was instrumental in helping us to develop the structure and content for the pre- and post-performance lectures. • The producers and cast of Next to Normal were very helpful in participating in the project. • Dunleavy and Associates, a long-time business partner, provided funding to support the reception and lectures. Through their involvement, we are developing a new relationship with Westbirdge Treatment Center, a non-profit organization dedicated to supporting the recovery of families and individuals who experience co-occurring mental health issues and substance abuse disorders. • Mike Fitzpatrick, Executive Director of The National Association for Mental Illness (NAMI), and his staff were very supportive of this effort by offering their services as experts in the mental health field to help build awareness of mental health issues.

7. Have these questions challenged you to think about your project in new or different ways? If yes, please explain. Click here to read our response.

Creating this new innovative project where art, social issues, and different demographic groups come together to advance understanding and awareness of key community issues has made us keenly aware of the ongoing need to improve the impact and outcomes of this project. These questions have definitely challenged us to think about our future Community Engagement Projects and how there is great potential for similar projects to reach broader audiences and engage many more partnering organizations. While we are very proud of our accomplishments to date, going forward we definitely intend to improve our engagement of partners, hone in on performance programming that touches relevant community issues, and continue to expand our engagement of the broader community through social media and traditional media outlets.

8. If asked to supplement this grant reporting form with audio, video, pictures, images, or other forms of social media content documenting your outcomes and/or activities, would that be desirable and feasible? Click here to read our response.

If requested, we have the ability to supplement this grant reporting form with video, pictures, and social media content that holistically captures the positive outcomes of this project. This additional information would supplement this grant report in a very supportive way by giving the Scattergood Foundation a glimpse of how this project was able to mobilize and engage the community to think about mental health issues in new ways, especially as they relate to the arts. We would be happy to provide the Scattergood Foundation with this information.

9. Do you have any concerns about this method of grant reporting? If yes, please explain. Click here to read our response.

At this time we do not have any concerns with this method of grant reporting and we look forward to partnering with the Scattergood Foundation on future projects.