It’s not unusual for people to say to me they wouldn’t still be alive if it weren’t for music.
-Phil Heuzenroeder, Executive Director at Wild at Heart.
Storytelling is how we connect, share, and interact with our communities. Helping people tell their stories is the purpose behind the organisation, Wild at Heart Community Arts.
Wild at Heart, through the power of music-making, enables people with disabilities to connect with their voice and be in charge of their own stories.
With a 30-strong team of full and part-time employees who assist in all aspects of music-making, support, and mentoring, the organisation is making a real difference for people across Melbourne and regional Victoria.
A spectrum of opportunities
At Wild at Heart, there exists a range of opportunities, and the organisation isn’t just for those who have musical experience or knowledge. Rather, it operates broadly, providing support to those who have never written a song, nor played a musical instrument, right through to working with people to release their music professionally and gain employment as musicians.
The service offers participants opportunities to learn how to tell their own stories and shape this into songs and music. There are group workshops, as well as individual mentoring to support this, as well as a safe and supportive community of peers. Practical support includes new skills development, recording, performance, music video creation, releasing music, and doing gigs.
Wild at Heart support people from all kinds of backgrounds who are experiencing disadvantage, including physical and mental disability, abuse, trauma, and poverty. Ultimately, it’s a community for a diverse range of people to create art and enrich the cultural experience for everyone in society.
Acceptance and celebration of difference
While many might view music-making in this context as therapeutic, Phil Heuzenroeder, Executive Director, explains that what’s offered isn’t intended as therapy, but an empowering means to communicate and engage through your own music.
Phil says, “Our starting point is this: who you are right now is enough. We’re here to enable you to express yourself in music and belong to a community, not ‘fix’ people. The difference in thinking is profound.”
The thinking aligns well with their motto: ‘Every person has the right to tell their story, be valued and belong’. And it seems this motto is exactly what people are finding through their involvement with Wild at Heart.
Take songwriter Lisa Vivian, for example, who’s participated in workshops, festivals, and mentoring with the organisation––and they’re even currently helping her launch her first album. Music plays a key role in Lisa’s life, as a way for her to communicate how she feels in a world that often misunderstands.
Providing genuine support, empathy and understanding for people who might otherwise find themselves misunderstood in other places, is the core ethos of Wild at Heart.
And, thanks to an immediate shift to online, events and mentoring have carried on throughout COVID-19––even when it wasn’t convenient to do so.
“I recently helped a participant in rural Victoria write a song over the phone. We went back and forth with calls and text messages to make it happen. He otherwise would have felt extremely isolated.”
“We provide a supportive community for people to be themselves. It’s something they may never have found elsewhere.”
We’re here to help
At myAutonomy, it’s our goal to empower participants to use their funding in ways that are most beneficial for them–including participating with excellent providers like Wild at Heart.