All summer of 2020 Victoria Theater Arts Center (VTAC) made a commitment to the Frogtown and Rondo community to help process the trauma in the wake of the murder of George Floyd and other Black people around the country at the hands of police. In collaboration with teams of artists, volunteers, and businesses, they created murals with their neighbors along University Ave in Saint Paul to sustain the movement for justice and bring love and healing to all.
VTAC continues this work and will provide for the acute need for community access to safe, healing, creative spaces through their new Community Trauma Response Program. The goal is for this to be a responsive program available to the public any time there are events that provoke collective grief or trauma.
“We invite the community to use our creative resources such as plywood, paint, brushes, crayons, paper, and markers free of charge to anyone who needs those tools to creatively grieve and heal during these uncertain and tumultuous times,” shares program creator and VTAC Community Coordinator, Sydney Latimer (they/them). “Art allows us to express what is hard to say, and is here for everyone - even if you don’t consider yourself an artist.”
In addition to offering creative resources, VTAC will provide the community with information that directs them to low-cost/affordable mental health services, access to emotional and spiritual healers, bodyworkers, and places to find free food for people in need. Alongside partner org Black Table Arts Co-op, they are building a database of resources for not only trauma healing but for the overall support of BIPOC community members and artists. Murals for Healing and Justice was the first event of the VTAC Community Trauma Response Program on March 20, 2021 from 1-3 p.m. at lot next Ryan Plumbing, two spaces down from 825 University, site of the future Victoria Theater Arts Center space set to open in 2022.
There was also be an acupuncturist available for healing, free food, and a display of “SAY HER NAME" by Sydney Latimer, a Multi-Media Street Art Memorial Shrine honoring Breonna Taylor, Sandra Bland, and Aiyanna Stanley-Jones. An additional shrine honoring the 8 people killed in Atlanta was on display as well and open for reflection and prayer.