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ACA Arts & Wellness Academy

May 20, 2022 - May 22, 2022


“Art has a power to focus us on extraordinary and transcendent insights into what one’s life purpose can be.” Alex Grey

Atlantic Center for the Arts (ACA) is driven by a mission that focuses on multidisciplinary artistic collaboration and mentorship. Since 2015, ACA Arts & Wellness ambassadors have developed a shared culture and experiential method that connects the arts to community health. We invite teaching artists, community leaders, and healthcare professionals to learn these techniques and best practices in a unique academic forum held at the historic ACA Harris House in downtown New Smyrna Beach. During the academy, participants will learn ACA’s organizational culture of public engagement that connect the arts to community health. The academy is taught by ACA ambassadors, staff, and invited guest leaders in the field of arts and wellness. The vision of this program is to advocate for social engagement, experiential learning, and creative thinking using the arts to define a holistic path to improve physical, mental and behavioral conditions. 

Participants will learn:

  • The ACA Five Phases of an Arts & Wellness Experience (guiding method for facilitating creative group connection).
  • How to design programs for diverse audiences and facilitate arts experiences in wellness.
  • How facilitators can enhance listening skills to create a restorative setting.
  • Ways to offer creative tools for resilience.
  • Approaches to reframe challenges as opportunities.
  • The cyclical process of integrating research and mentorship into programs for your community.

Presenting Artists:

  • ACA Community Artist & Ambassador, Bethany Bennett focuses her presentation on recognizing history of trauma in youth and veterans, and ways to respond to these populations through patience, empathy, and encouragement. She shares an experiential learning session titled Process of Layering.
  • ACA Director of Community Programs, Eve Payor welcomes everyone to the academy by sharing the unique methodology that ACA artists use to guide the groups in creative, healing experiences. She will present a lecture on building partnerships that focus on addressing public needs and building healthy communities.
  • ACA Artist Ambassador, Sonja Jean Craig will share her experience with the process of group facilitation, free play, mindfulness, and best practices with groups of active adults, caregivers, and elders with cognitive disabilities. 
  • ACA Artist Ambassador, Robert Sabljak brings his extensive knowledge of body awareness, focusing on the use of martial arts with active adults and elders.

About the Artists:

Bethany Bennett is an interdisciplinary artist who earned her Bachelor of Fine Arts from the University of Central Florida and her Master of Fine Arts from Lesley University in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The artwork she produces question women’s equality and role in society. Her investment in the community is to boost others confidence and self-worth through artistic practices. Currently, she is an adjunct visual arts professor at Daytona State College and works with ACA as a Community Artist sharing health through the arts with diverse groups from elders to youth. https://www.daytonastate.edu/directory/bethany-behr.aspx

Award winning poet Sonja Jean Craig, Secretary of Florida State Poets Association,  has been certified by Florida State Poets Association for completion of the Twelve Chairs Poetry Course.  She is published in several anthologies including Isolation Challenge, FSPA’s Cadence,  Fresh Fish, Poetic Visions and FWA’s Collection. Her guidance cards, A Love Affaire With Life, includes her poetry and photographs. Sonja Jean lives a life of magic and wonder in beautiful New Smyrna Beach with her beloved cats and poetic perspective. She has completed the ACA Arts & Wellness Academy and leads creative workshops for Atlantic Center for the Arts including Creative Caregiving and Creative Medicine for the community.

Eve Payor (aka Lady Eve) joined Atlantic Center for the Arts as a musician and electronic soundscape artist. Her arts advocacy focuses on the connection between music, environment, and wellness. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in music business from Georgia State University and a Master of Arts in arts administration from University of Kentucky. In the Fall of 2016, she created an Arts &Wellness program of soundwalks, which gave the public opportunities to experience natural surroundings through listening techniques, meditative breathing, and mindfulness.  The soundwalk program has grown into an artist residency called the ACA Soundscape Field Station at Canaveral National Seashore, and an accessibility program for blind and partially sighted youth called Young Sound Seekers, sponsored by the National Park Service. www.ladyeve.ca

Robert Sabljak, A.P. owns and operates his Pathway to Healing Acupuncture and Massage Therapy practice in New Smyrna Beach. He has been practicing Traditional Chinese Medicine and teaching Tai Chi for 23 years. As an acupuncture physician, Robert’s practice also includes nutrition counseling and exercise programs as key components in his treatment plans. Robert studied Tai Chi while attending the Shanghai Institute and he recommends this as a remarkable exercise for combining cardiovascular activity while improving strength and balance as well as stress reduction. Understanding that the leading cause of injury in elders are falls, the A.A.R.P. promotes the use of Tai Chi for its ability to strengthen and improve balance.

Robert Sabljak

Peggy Imbert has helped ACA realize its Arts & Wellness Initiative in the community since 2014. She is a fiber artist and uses her crafting skills to design easily accessible projects for each of her programs. Alongside Mary McBride, she pioneered techniques and best practices for working with elders who navigate cognitive disorders, such as Alzheimer’s Disease. Her background as a entrepreneur in local childcare has given her the foundation to build activities for multi-generational programs in the community. Peggy leads the ACA Summer Art Camp and has facilitated Creative Caregiving and Creative Aging with Oceanview Nursing and Rehabilitation in New Smyrna Beach.







Option 1 – On site at ACA Harris House | $125 includes access to all presentations, experiential workshops, networking opportunities, and lunch for 3 days (May 20-22) at the ACA Harris House (214 S. Riverside Drive, New Smyrna Beach, Florida).
Click here to register for Option 1 – On site at ACA Harris House

Option 2 – Online only | $125 includes access to all presentations and experiential workshops via streaming and video platforms. Click here to register for Option 2 – Online only

Contact us for more information: community@atlanticcenterforthearts.org / 386-423-1753.


May 20, 2022
May 22, 2022
Event Category:


Community Programs


Atlantic Center for the Arts at Harris House
214 S. Riverside Drive
New Smyrna Beach, FL 32168 United States
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