Photo by Stewart MacLean.

The Creative Well-Being Inititative

Creative PEI

Awarded Cycle

Awarded Amount
$48,600.00 1-year funding

Creative PEI

Creative PEI is the sector council that works on behalf of PEI’s arts, culture, and creative professionals in collaboration with the province’s creative industry associations. Since 2006, it has been a sector catalyst and a connector that empowers professionals to improve their outcomes and incomes. Organization members include Music PEI, Theatre PEI, Film PEI, Video Games PEI, the PEI Crafts Council, the PEI Writers’ Guild, and the PEI Community Museums Association. 

In creative industries, individuals often navigate challenging working conditions, unpredictable employment, and the emotional strain of their craft. Driven by a commitment to acknowledge this reality and a vision of a thriving and sustainable creative sector on Prince Edward Island, Creative PEI launched the Creative Well-Being Initiative in 2022 with an aim to unite artists, arts organizations, and mental health professionals.      

From May 2022 to February 2023, the Creative Well-Being Initiative worked to address two areas of collaboration:  

    • Enlist the help of the mental health community in promoting the mental well-being of creative sector workers.  
    • Identify ways that creative sector workers can support the mental health community by developing the capacity to use art to promote mental well-being for the community at large.   

attended the Mental Health First Aid Training (arts leaders)

attended the Mental Health Information Session (arts leaders)

participated in The Creative Well-Being Initiative conference (artists, arts workers, mental health professionals)

The first stage of work was a campaign delivered on social media to raise awareness about the Initiative. Content reached over 16,000 individuals, and other creative sector organizations made an effort to share with their networks.   

Next, Creative PEI collaborated with the Canadian Mental Health Association – PEI Division to provide a mental health information session and specialized Mental Health First Aid training to over 20 leaders in the sector. The Initiative’s Project Coordinator, JoAnna Howlett, said awareness was one of the biggest things that came out of the session and that participants felt supported in multiple ways. “The arts community really came together in that moment and realized this is something that we’re prioritizing and that they can be supported by us and also learn to support others through training,” Howlett said.    

The arts community really came together in that moment and realized this is something that we're prioritizing and that they can be supported by us and also learn to support others through training.
JoAnna Howlett, Project Coordinator with Creative PEI

The final stage of the project introduced a comprehensive survey of PEI artists. Over 90 individuals responded, provided essential data on mental well-being, and highlighted areas of concern. The results were compiled and shared at the Creative Well-Being Initiative Conference in November 2022. 43 individuals from the creative and mental health sector attended the conference.  

In the survey and in discussion at the conference, people expressed interest in financial support, mental health services, and more opportunities to gather with one another, explained Howlett. “It was affirming for everyone to see that they weren’t the only ones wanting those things, it was a common theme,” said Howlett.   

It really was the sense of being seen.
Mark Sandiford, Executive Director of Creative PEI

The survey results and insights from the conference were essential in drafting a three-year strategic plan to support and promote mental well-being in the creative sector in the coming years. “Artists are kind of unique in how they engage with the world, and they need to have the support that allows them to continue to do that work,” said Howlett.

Mark Sandiford, Executive Director of Creative PEI, recalled how participants thanked organizers after the conference. “It really was the sense of being seen,” he said.   

In March 2023, Creative PEI was awarded a three-year grant to develop the next phase of the Creative Well-Being Initiative. This time, the Initiative will focus on peer support, accessible therapy, and other types of assistance the sector has expressed interest in. “This is a big project (and) we’re very happy to have the multi-year support because it’s going to take us a while to figure out what we’re doing and to put all the things in place that are going to really make a difference,” said Sandiford.   

To learn more about the Creative Well-Being Initiative, please visit