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Frequently asked questions

Does Toi Ora provide art therapy? 

The simple answer is no. The Toi Ora programme focuses on a person’s development as an artist. The Toi Ora studio is a creative space designed to be safe for people with the lived experience of mental health issues. Our professional tutors provide expert support for our artists to hone their chosen craft. Our programme provides structure, routine, connection, community, and the creative process as a pathway to recovery and wellbeing. 

How is the creative process a pathway to recovery and wellbeing?

Engaging in the creative process honours the value of self-determination (tina rangatiratanga). Every artist is encouraged to search for their own unique way of expression. Our classes support people to look at art from many different aspects, such as composition, tonality, deeps of field, colour or intention - only to mention a few.

Working alongside other artists and exchanging ideas helps to deepen one’s practice. Not only do our artist improve the skills of a specific artform, they also learn to see, hear and feel. They learn to follow a process, they test their assumptions, see their outcomes, and learn to accept that not every attempt brings the result their hoped for. As such artists are encouraged to enter a cycle of seeing and re-seeing, listening, and sharpening their senses. Toi Ora provides a safe environment to test, review, and try again without being judged. Artists are supported and encouraged on their learning journey.

Are Toi Ora events and services available for anyone? 

Toi Ora Exhibitions are open to the public. To enrol as a Toi Ora artist, the participant/artist must be referred by a doctor, a psychologist, health practitioner, Te Whatu Ora (Auckland District Health Board) or be engaging with another mental health service. 

How much do Toi Ora offerings cost? 

While art materials, equipment, and professional tutors can be quite expensive, Toi Ora offers this programme free of charge for our artists. Creativity is a proven pathway to recovery and wellbeing.  For many, any cost would be a barrier to participation and wellbeing.  Artists for whom cost would not be a barrier are always welcome to make a donation

How is Toi Ora funded? 

Toi Ora is funded by the generous support of Te Whatu Ora (Auckland District Health Board), Manatū Taonga (Ministry of Culture and Heritage), private foundations, corporations, and individual donors.  Click here to support this work.

Is it true that "tortured artists" and creative types are more likely to have mental health issues? 

No. This is a harmful myth and a stereotype. 1 in 5 people experience mental health issues. People in all walks of life, not just creative types, struggle with mental health. Multiple research studies have been conducted and there is no conclusive evidence to show that artists are more likely to experience mental health issues. 

On the other hand, studies conclusively show the benefit of developing a creative practice on a person's mental health. Yet mental health issues often create barriers to participating in meaningful, life enriching activities, such as creative endeavours. That is why spaces like Toi Ora are so valuable in our communities. 



Auckland District Health Board
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