Vijay Gupta Headlines three-day conference, ‘Opioid Epidemic: What’s art got to do with it?’

Belfast, Maine — The University of Maine Hutchinson Center, in partnership with the Belfast Creative Coalition, will offer a three-day artivism conference, “Opioid Epidemic: What’s art got to do with it?” on Nov. 1–3.

The conference begins Friday evening with a public keynote performance by violinist Vijay Gupta at the United Farmers Market, 18 Spring St. in Belfast. Gupta is the founder of Street Symphony, a musical advocacy program that empowers citizen-musicians by engaging with communities in need.

Doors open at 6 p.m. The Nov. 1 event also features an interactive arts installation — a visual arts response to social justice issues and addiction from the community. Tickets for the evening are $30 each and available online at

On Saturday, Nov. 2, the conference will feature a full day of artivism workshops at the University of Maine Hutchinson Center in Belfast. Breakout sessions will focus on: Visual Arts in Action, Written Word in Action, Performing Arts in Action, and Musical Arts in Action.

Morning presenters include Natasha Irving and the Artist Rapid Response Team from Portland, Maine; writer and poet Joe Jackson, director of the Maine Prisoner Advocacy Coalition in Augusta, Maine; and storyteller Gerard Stropnicky from Bloomsburg, Pennsylvania.

Gupta will lead an afternoon master class that will offer participants deeper insight into his work with Street Symphony and Urban Voices, inspiring conference attendees to effect change in their own communities, empowered by their own human, civic and artistic voices.

Gupta is an esteemed performer, communicator and citizen-artist, and a leading advocate for the role of the arts and music to heal, inspire, provoke change and foster social connection. He was recently interviewed by PBS NewsHour and appeared on NBC’s Dateline after he was awarded a MacArthur Fellowship in 2018. Gupta will perform and speak practically and tactically about how he uses his talent, skill and passion, and that of his Street Symphony and Urban Voices, to impact the lives of people living on the streets or those incarcerated. Gupta will be joined by Maine dignitaries and special musical friends.

“Using the tools of writing, visual arts, performance, theater and music, interested people from all disciplines and sectors will consider the opioid epidemic through the powerful lens of creative expression,” says Larraine Brown, Belfast Creative Coalition director.

The conference concludes Sunday morning with a final session of Imagining Solutions at the Basil Burwell Community Theatre (BAZZ), a continuation of the recent Community Conversations series sponsored by Belfast Creative Coalition and RAW 4 Change. Concluding talking circles, led by trained facilitators, will support participants in exploring concrete, sustainable ways to engage in creative and artistic efforts in their own communities to address

the opioid crisis and related social justice issues. Brunch will be provided by residents from the Maine Coastal Regional Reentry Center. More information on the Community Conversations series is online:

“We are thrilled to be partnering with the Belfast Creative Coalition to support those impacted by the opioid epidemic in our Maine community,” says Patricia Libby, University of Maine Hutchinson Center Director.

The price for the full three-day conference is $95 before Oct. 21; $120 thereafter. Scholarships are available. For more information or to request a reasonable accommodation, call 207.218.1144

The Saturday conference at the Hutchinson Center includes a light breakfast and lunch. Applications for continuing education units will be available. Certificates for contact hours will be awarded at the end of Saturday’s events.

Tickets and registration at Eventbrite: For information regarding available scholarships, conference schedule and workshop descriptions: or call 207.218.1144.



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