Located in a renovated school house in South Greensburg, the Staunton Farm Foundation Art Cellar at MHA of Southwestern PA will be a community art “open studio” promoting communication through art, providing meaningful art experiences, and preventing mental health concerns while empowering individuals and the community in which they live. While there are a few private practice art therapists, no community group art program with a therapeutic component targeting this unique population exists in Greensburg.

Collaborating with Seton Hill University’s Art Therapy program, graduate level interns will facilitate art programs using an inclusive community model with individuals in recovery. Art therapy is helpful for people who experience illness, trauma, mental health issues, and challenges in living, as well as for those who seek personal insight and change.

By using an open concept studio design, the Art Cellar aims to integrate low income mental health consumers with community members; thereby, expanding social supports, and improving quality of life and dignity, providing them with a unique opportunity they would not otherwise have. The Art Cellar will foster new solutions and give voice to behavioral health clients so that they may live with dignity while encouraging self-sufficiency.

Please stay tuned to the Art Cellar page as this exciting and innovative project unfolds… and how YOU can lend your support.

From Unused Basement Space To A Place for Healing

The Staunton Farm Foundation Art Cellar at MHA of Southwestern PA has been a dream in the making for two years now. Located in the basement of MHA-SWPA’s main offices in South Greensburg, this 2,000 square feet of unused space would be perfect for making an
open concept art studio which could benefit not only those experiencing mental health and substance use issues, but also the community as a whole.

The space had previously been used as a print room for the printing company that once was housed in the building. The floor was uneven, the walls needed to be patched and painted, and a drop ceiling needed to be installed. This was in addition to necessary renovations on the bathrooms as well as the construction of storage areas. All of these construction-related projects needed to take place before the official start of the Art Cellar Program.

The first phase of renovations (Fall/Spring , 2017-18) began with the installation of new glass block security windows, removing and replacing the outdated HVAC system, leveling of the floor, and removing almost 40 cubic yards of waste and old materials. These renovations were funded in part through a grant from the Community Foundation of Westmoreland County, and internal Capital Improvement funds.

The second phase of renovations (fall/spring, 2018-19) included the patching and repairing of interior walls, painting, replacement of the outside entrance steps, and the addition of a drop ceiling with high-efficiency LED lighting. These renovations were also funded in part through a grant from the Community Foundation of Westmoreland County, and internal Capital Improvement funds.

In the Spring/Summer of 2019, MHA-SWPA had applied for and was awarded a grant from the Community Foundation of Westmoreland County in order to begin programing in the fall of 2019. This grant provided for startup costs and materials, in addition to personnel costs. At that time it was the intent to use internal Capital Improvement funds to complete the final renovations necessary for occupation and begin to implement programming.

However, after a site visit from the Staunton Farm Foundation on an unrelated project, finalization of the basement renovation was immediately put on hold pending the application and outcome of a major Capital Improvement grant through Staunton Farm. This would expand the scope of the renovations to include additional areas of the basement not initially identified for renovations, and also the ability to completely renovate the bathrooms and rear entrance to make the basement fully accessible to all participants.

MHA-SWPA was awarded the Capital Improvement grant through Staunton Farm in late October 2019. Renovations are currently in progress with anticipated completion in the spring/summer of 2020 and program implementation to follow in the fall of 2020.