Making Time: Artist Self Care

Managing experiences of burn out, exhaustion, mental health, fatigue and post-traumatic stress symptoms are the focus of the Making Time: Arts and Self-care program. It is clear that artists and arts workers who are working in regional and remote, complex and trauma impacted community settings, are often at risk of stress, vicarious trauma,  and burn out.

This is an issue not only for artists and arts workers but also for organisations that are contracting workers to deliver socially engaged and community projects and outcomes, often under short time frames, limited resources and within contexts where the communities are experiencing high levels of complex trauma.

In other professional sectors most notably within the Social Services, Medical and Mental health sectors, transference and counter transference of traumatic experience as well as exposure to direct traumatic events has been recognized as having real and complicated impacts on the practitioner (J Herriman Trauma and Recovery, 2001). Practice methods, professional training and professional peer debriefing/mentoring networks have been developed within these sectors to support and sustain the well-being of the practitioners and subsequently the quality of their practice and most importantly the therapeutic relationship with the people and communities they serve.

The experiences and best practice models developed in the primary mental health sector strongly validates the need to build capacity within the CACD sector through professional peer networks, self-care strategies, Mental Health First Aid training and strategies for preparedness for working within complex community contexts through a more informed understanding of the impacts of trauma.

Making Time Retreats

Making Time Retreats are developed to strengthen well-being and build self-care strategies and sector connection for community artists and  arts-workers.

How can CACD practitioners look after their mental, physical and emotion health while delivering high quality meaningful projects to communities that are isolated, have experiences of trauma or disaster, or are disenfranchised?

In partnership with Community Arts Network and practice psychologist Shona Erskine, we are creating a research process in order to reality test our professional supervision theories, so we can revitalise and deepen sector practice. The pilot aims to articulate and make visible the diverse and valuable expertise within our CACD sector.

This check list evolved from a conversation between artists present at a Making Time forum in WA in 2017. It aims to support artists and organisations to think strategically about and activate strategies for self care before, during and after projects. You have any suggestions or additions please contact us so we can build this resource together.

Here is the Check list pdf

This link is some additional information if you would like to explore further ideas and provocations.

A gift from Creative Recovery Network to members and friends to show connection and a reminder that they are not alone……

If you would like to be part of this process or wish to let us know that a member is need of a Love Box please contact us at


Recipients response to receiving a Love Box:

I arrived home on New Years Eve with a heavy heart. Exhausted and overwhelmed after attending the funeral of a loved one I needed time and privacy to fall in a heap and continue the grief.

I opened my mail and there was this beautifully creative box filled with gifts of beauty and softness that expressed care and love. I burst into tears, and there were such feelings of gratitude.

Nurtured within the scent of potpourri and angel feathers a ‘taking time out kit’ emerged: a repurposed vintage cup & saucer tea set for two with bespoke teas and more. It was an acknowledgment that people understood what I was going through, and an assurance that I would get through it.

As I sat quietly drinking my tea I reflected on my experience during the Cyclone Yasi disaster in Far North Queensland and the assistance from people and the creative arts projects and conversations, healing and community building through workshops including the Making Time – Artist’s Self Care workshop I was a part of with Contact Inc which evolved into Creative Recovery Network.

People everywhere are touched by disasters in some way and as a recipient of The Love Box, it reinstalled for me the importance of how the Creative Recovery Network advocates for individuals and communities, assisting in leadership with their preparedness and response during natural disasters.

The Love Box experience is the collective compassionate feelings of Creative Recovery Network to facilitate assistance for people to get on with living their lives with the recovery and the resilience process.

I look forward to creating more Creative Recovery Network Love Boxes to be sent out, knowing the joy of receiving one.

Fiona Croft

“The most useful part of the workshop was understanding the need for elders/mentors and cultivating a strong support network, uncovering and exploring deeper levels of my self.” Making Time Qld Retreat participant

“I am taking away a great deal of thoughts, ideas, connections, insight, exercises, awareness – and things that have yet to settle” Making Time Vic Retreat participant

Interested in hosting or participating in a Making Time program?

We’d love to hear from you, get in touch

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