Scattergood Foundation

Advancing Innovative Strategies for Change in Behavioral Health

Box of Stars

Name of Innovative Program: 
Promoting Mental Health Awareness Through the Arts
Sponsoring Organization
Box of Stars
Name of Innovative Program Lead: 
Jessica Richardson
E-mail Address of Innovative Program Lead:
Project Description: 
In the United states, more than 50% of adults who report having mental illness never seek treatment. 20% of those with mental illness also meet the criteria for substance dependence or abuse. Resons why those who need help don't find it: the stigma of mental disease, lack of access to care and the financial barriers imposed by our healthcare system. We'd like to help change this. Music is a language that is universal, and speaks directly to the emotions. So many of the musicians that we admire and are inspired by have struggled with their own mental health. To name but a few: Mark Linkous, Ian Curtis, Elliott Smith, Daniel Johnston, Michael Hutchence, George Gershwin, and Brian Wilson. At the root of Box of Stars is this idea: Bring together artists to create tributes to these inspirational musicians to in order to promote awareness of the current mental health crisis.
Creativity and Innovation: 
It is the aim of Box of Stars to be instrumental in coordinating resources from people in the mental health and arts communities to accomplish the goal of bringing better awareness to the need for improved accessibility of mental health services. We will bring together musicians of note who have a national or international network of fans to record an album of music in tribute to an artist who has struggled with mental illness. Using the proceeds generated we will be able to effect change in three ways:
  • Raising awareness of the ongoing mental health crisis in the U.S.
  • Using our website to create a repository of information on mental health services available both nationally and by region.
  • Donating profits from album sales to other not for profit organizations in the mental health arena
Music can be such a wonderful tool for connecting people. The chords, notes, colors and patterns are primitive languages that extend beyond words and have an amazing power to express the inexpressible.  Shared in these complex ways, human emotions can lead to an intimate understanding that simple conversation can't provide. Box of Stars will use these ideas and ideals to create a platform where artists can use their talents to create a medium that has both emotional and commercial appeal. In doing so, we will then have the ability to use that product to promote awareness of the current mental health crisis while raising funds to do something about it. This basic idea could be implemented by other creative entities in music or in other areas of the arts. Box of Stars will work diligently to guide and support any such efforts.
Cedar Street Studios is a well-known recording and music production facility in Philadelphia, PA. Through our partnership with Cedar Street Studios, Box of Stars has the resources to produce multiple tribute albums celebrating the life and work of well-respected musicians who suffered from mental illness. The project will begin with a tribute to Mark Linkous, a brilliant songwriter and producer who worked under the name Sparklehorse. A portion of the proceeds from the sales of the recording will be put back into the project to help fund another tribute album. We are currently working with several other entities to help fund the project by providing services such as printing the packaging, pressing the CDs, and aiding in distribution. Box of Stars is also working with others offering their expertise in promotion such as Artie Kornfeld, co-creator of Woodstock '69 and a legendary figure in the music industry.
The Box of Stars concept is simple, and the execution is fairly straightforward. This same idea could easily be translated to other areas of the arts. Many of us have been moved and inspired by writers, painters, choreographers, and playwrights who have struggled with mental illness. Highlighting their work and re-introducing it to the public in a fresh way would be an innovative way to raise awareness for this cause.  The success of Box of Stars would serve as a jumping off point for other organizations to create similar projects.
Box of Stars was created to use music to bring awareness to the mental health crisis currently effecting our nation; that will be our goal and we will work tirelessly to achieve it. The success of Box of Stars will be determined by a number of factors. The volume sales of the albums we create is important, as the more successful an individual album is in terms of sales, the more resources we will have to continue the project. The amount of exposure Box of Stars gets in the media is equally as vital, as our goal is to raise as much awareness and reach as many individuals as possible. Most importantly, the feedback we get from the public and those in the mental health community is what will inspire and motivate us to never lose sight of our goal.