Poughkeepsie’s O+ Festival Empowers Artists With Free Health Services

This one-of-a-kind music and art fest suppoprts creative communities with collective wellbeing.

Summer is filled with a ton of fairs and festivals featuring artist performances and fun activities for pretty much everyone. However, the O+ Festival is not like the others. With a mission of “exchanging the art of medicine for the medicine of art, O+ empowers communities to take control of their collective wellbeing,” combining art, music, and wellness initiatives in a setting that’s both safe and welcoming.

The event was founded by a small group of artists-activists, doctors, and a dentist in Kingston in 2010, and since has grown into a national nonprofit, expanding to cities like Chicago and San Francisco. O+ has stayed true to its Kingston roots, returning for the annual festival for the last six years. Crowds at the Kingston O+ Festival location average around 3,500 people. This is the first year O+ will be hosted in downtown Poughkeepsie, taking over Main Street and Mural Square Park this Friday and Saturday, August 4-5.

Guests attending the festival will receive a donation-based wristband ($20 is the suggested amount), which will be the all-access pass to everything the event has to offer. More than 20 bands will perform, including Brooklyn’s Monogold, Beacon’s Pontoon, and Hudson’s Dust Bowl Faeries. Attendees not only can view public art that reflects the history and culture of the diverse communities, but also watch artists make large-scale murals or participate in EXPLO+RE classes in dance, yoga, and meditation.

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A wellness EXPO+ will also be among the main attractions. Artists and musicians who are underinsured will donate their creative efforts and performances to O+ audiences, and in return will receive free health and wellness care. Event sponsor Mid-Hudson Regional Hospital has organized care from volunteer nurses, doctors, dentists, and complementary care providers, with a goal of building long-term relationships between creatives and health and wellness providers to help strengthen local communities overall. The most commonly requested health services are dental and massage therapy.

“The care is an integral part of the weekend, which is what makes O+ stand out from other festivals,” says Kathleen Murray, Chief Storyteller for the O+ Festival.

Cloud Bartoli, also known as Cloud, is one of the many artists who will be part of festival’s exchange. According to her biography page on the O+ website, she uses song writing as a way to process life and tap into the hopeful heartbeat of humanity. Bartoli’s motivation for participating in the event is the creative energy of Poughkeepsie and for the arts to gain momentum, as well as the fusion of healthcare and artistry that the day brings.

“To have access to the many health and wellness services at this festival affirms that our art and our bodies are important and worth investing in and caring about,” says Bartoli. “I mostly look forward to getting on the acupuncture table. I hear it’s amazing! I also will be checking out the primary care station to make sure my body is in check overall.”

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Click here for more information, including a lineup of this weekend’s performances and artist showcases.

Related: 40 Years of Fun and Fantasy at The New York Renaissance Faire

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