BINGHAMTON, NY (WIVT/WBGH) – A local advocacy group is getting an influx of creative contributors thanks to an effort to support artists, non-profits and the overall economy.
Truth Pharm, which raises awareness of the opioid epidemic and advocates for harm reduction policies, is getting an Artist Employment Program grant from the organization Creatives Rebuild New York.
The initiative, which was launched earlier this year in response to the COVID pandemic, aims to provide a guaranteed living wage to artists so that they can do work on behalf of non-profits while bolstering local economies.
7 artists will be hired by Truth Pharm and each earn an annual salary of 65 thousand dollars plus 9 thousand worth of benefits.
Truth Pharm Founder and Executive Director Alexis Pleus says she has always tried to infuse art into the organization’s activism, including the visual elements of its annual Trail of Truth remembrance event.
“The tombstones that are painted by artists. Then you see the live performance art piece by family members and the tracing,” said Pleus. “All of that art. But, we have kind of lost using art as much as I’ve always wanted to use art at Truth Pharm. This is giving us this opportunity to really invigorate the arts at Truth Pharm.”
Truth Pharm will also receive 175 thousand dollars over the 2 years that the grant covers to administer the program.
The 7 positions include a team of 4 photographers and videographers as well as a creative director, a graphic artist and a community arts liaison.
Mia Hause will lead creative workshops as the liaison.
“These type of opportunities will give people a way to explore their own relationships with substance use and the war on drugs and the overdose epidemic,” said Hause. “I think right now, something we’re thinking about a lot is that opportunities like this gives people a place to put their grief. Especially when these deaths are so heavily stigmatized, people don’t have anything to do with that pain.”
The video production crew will be lead by local photographer Yohance Bailey.
Pleus says they’ll work on a variety of projects including some social media parodies and a full-length documentary.
Pleus says the videos will also assist Truth Pharm as it advocates for specific opioid epidemic related legislation.