Maricopa County, Ariz.
CANVAS stands for “Creating Art, Nurturing Vision, Achieving Success”. Specialty Court participants who are interested in art have an opportunity to work with the Court and community partners to find ways to be creative in the community. There is a place for the artist in everyone; no experience or training is required to participate in the program. CANVAS currently serves probationers who are in Mental Health and Veterans Courts in Maricopa County. When a probationer wishes to become involved in CANVAS, the Court will provide his/her first sketch pad (and other supplies, as available) and a t-shirt. Receiving a CANVAS t-shirt fosters a sense of belonging to this creative community. CANVAS artists are then encouraged to either create something on their own, work with a community partner to create art of their choosing and according to their interest, or engage in formalized art therapy, as desired. Art supplies, work space, classes, pre-job training and entrepreneurial opportunities may be available through certain community partners. Community partners also help to coordinate the program with the Court. Using evidence-based practices, the Court encourages CANVAS artists by providing positive feedback and incentives. In this way, the court becomes a positive force to encourage pro-social activity, rather than a negative force for reprimand and punishment. Whether it is simply a way to manage stress or enjoy free time, there are several ways to use the healing power of art. CANVAS is a pro-social activity that helps to relieve stress and frustration, utilize time productively and avoid other negative, less constructive activities that might result in the commission or new crimes or in the revocation of probation. The work of CANVAS artists is celebrated in a travelling “art gallery” that visits several venues throughout the year. CANVAS next steps include creating a monthly community calendar of events and a county-wide directory of providers.
Ms. Debbie Sinclair
Executive Assistant to Raymond L. Billotte