Healing And Recovery Through The Arts
International Conference
Havana, Cuba


  • To create a global forum for sharing innovative and ground-breaking mental health initiatives that foster healing and recovery through the arts;

  • To present the work of Canadian and Cuban artists who are experiencing healing and recovery through the arts;

  • To establish a twinning relationship between Cuba and Canada, to promote and share methodologies for arts-based mental health initiatives;

  • To provide art materials on an ongoing basis to help sustain healing and recovery through the arts in Cuba;

  • To organize a committee of mental health professionals, consumers of mental health services, supportive allies, and individuals involved in the healing arts, who will develop an international organization to plan future Healing And Recovery Through the Arts conferences in other countries.

This international organization is to be known as Arts-based Recovery Therapies International (ARTS International)


Homewood Health Centre
Spark of Brilliance
Mental Health Centre of Playa
Psychiatric Hospital of Havana 
Art Therapy Canada Cuba
Moreno Travel


Edgardo L. Perez - MD, MPH, FRCPC, CHE, CPHQ, CEO, Homewood Health Centre, Canada
Judith Rosenberg - Founder, Spark of Brilliance, Canada
Ernesto Marzoa - MD, Founder, ArteVida Cuba, & Director Community Mental Health Centre of Playa
Joe Power - Reg. N. BA, Homewood Health Centre, Canada
Wilson M. Lit - MD, FRCPC, Director of Community Division, Homewood Health Centre, Canada
Adrienne Hunter - PhD, Consultant, Canada-Cuba Medical Events
Bonnie Eccles - Consultant, Cuba Conferences and Cultural Tours (Moreno Travel)


Hotel Parque Central, November 6 to 11 inclusive, Havana, Cuba
Community Mental Health Centre of Playa - Apasionado (Passionate) art exhibition
Extra optional days in Havana or Varadero available at own expense


Professional accreditation (of 12 credits) for Canadian physicians & psychiatrists will be awarded, with equivalent accreditation for Cuban physicians and psychiatrists.


English and Spanish


Day 1 - Day of Arrival

Transfer by bus to hotel, exclusive check-in, welcome cocktail.

Evening at leisure. Evening activities may include cultural events, ballet performances, concerts, etc. Musical shows abound  with LeParisien at the Hotel Nacional, Turquino Bar at the Habana Libre Hotel, or the fabulous Club Tropicana. Musical events may include the Buena Vista Social Club, jazz at La Zorra Y El Cuervo, El Gato Tuerto, or the Jazz Café, among other welcoming clubs and bars. Old Havana is an architectural treasure and offers visitors a myriad of galleries, museums, restaurants and churches. Many of the buildings have been restored to their former historical charm. A further list of suggestions will be in your registration kit.

Day 2 - Day of Cultural and Medical Visits

Morning departure from Hotel Parque Central by bus with guides at 9:30 am

Visit the Psychiatric Hospital of Havana - Welcome by Director, Dr. Somarribas; introduction & descriptive of Hospital's policy; tour of facility; cultural presentation of music and dance by patients; lunch at the hospital provided.

Transfer back to hotel at 2:30 pm

Transfer by bus from hotel at 3:30 for Canadian and Cuban delegates, to the Community Mental Health Centre of Playa, for the opening of 'Apasionado (Passionate)', an art exhibition of the works of Canadian and Cuban artists, including members of ArteVida, Spark of Brilliance, and the unique collaborative work of Lionel Martin, and "Joya" (Esteban Garcia), and an exhibition from the children of the Jose de La Luz y Caballero School, presented by the Director, Ulises Cruz Grau; Musical entertainment will be provided by Warapo, and non-alcoholic refreshments and finger food prepared by the Citizens of the Community of Playa. This event is scheduled for approximately 4:10 pm with return to hotel at approximately 7:00 pm.

Dinner on your own. After dinner, anytime after 9 pm, let's all get together to catch some sultry Cuban rhythms on the rooftop patio of the Hotel Inglaterra, (the oldest hotel in Havana), adjacent to the Parque Central. Here you will see the most spectacular view of historical Cuban architecture. Hope to see you there after dinner!

You can also get to know Havana by night:

  • Visit the firing of the canon at El Morro (The Fort), a centuries old Cuban custom
    Stroll the Malecon (Boardwalk)
    Walk through the Four Squares in Old Havana
    Sip a mojito or daiquiri under the stars



9:30 am Welcome Remarks "The Importance of Creating Dialogue For Healing and Recovery Through The Arts", program logic model, and overview of the history of this project - Conference Chair, Judith Rosenberg (15 minutes)

9:45 am Welcome Remarks on behalf of Cuba - Dr. Guillermo Barrientos, Head of GOSMA Nacional (Grupo Operativo de Salud Mental y Adicciones) National Board of Psychiatry (15 minutes)
10:00 am Introduction of Cuban guest speaker, Dr. Ricardo Gonzalez Menendez, President of the Cuban Psychiatric Society - Dr. Ernesto Marzoa (5 minutes)

10:05 am Dr. Ricardo Gonzalez Menendez - "Rehabilitating Mental Health Patients With Dignity and Respect" 
(20 minutes & 10 minutes Q&A)

10:35 am Coffee Break (15 minutes)

10:50 am Introduction to Canadian guest speaker, Dr. Edgardo L. Perez, CEO & Chief of Staff, Homewood Health Centre - Judith Rosenberg (5 minutes)

10:55 am Dr. Edgardo L. Perez - "Integrated Arts-based Therapies Within Homewood Health Centre" (20 minutes & 10 minutes Q&A)

11:25 am Introduction of Jay Lefler, Artist & Mental Health Advocate - Judith Rosenberg (5 minutes)
11:30 am Guest Canadian Artist - Jay Lefler "What the Arts Mean to Me", sharing his work (20 minutes & 10 minutes Q&A)

12:00 noon Lunch is served to all delegates in the dining room

AFTERNOON PRESENTATIONS from 1:15 to 5:00 pm

1:15 to 2:00 pm "Two Steps And A Glass Of Water" - James Gordon, Director, Musician, Song-writer. A documentary film production by Glenn Curtis, depicting a unique multimedia theatrical production, written and performed by The Spark of Brilliance Players and directed by James Gordon. Open forum for discussion. 

2:00 to 2:45 pm "Environmental Structures" - Barbara Guy Long, Willow Artist and Creative Mentor. This slide presentation and lecture will give examples of guiding a community of people with severe mental health issues through the design and installation of a living willow structure.

2:45 to 3:00 pm Coffee Break

3:00 to 5:00 pm "Using Horticulture As A Therapeutic Tool" - Mitchell Hewson HTM, Horticulture Therapist, Homewood Health Centre, author of "Horticulture As A Therapy". Book available.

An Art Exhibition of local artists will grace the Conference Room and entrance salon, including the works of
Amarilis Veliz, with artistic contributions from Galeria Manos, Galeria Luz y Colors, Galeria Forma, Galeria Carmen Montilla Tinoco, Galeria Nelson Dominguez, Galeria La Acacia, Galeria Zaida Del Rio, Galeria La Mano Ciega, and the photography of Hubert Casellas Perez (Cuba) and Trina Koster (Canada).

While this evening is on your own, may we suggest you visit the hospitality desk to reserve for dinner at the restaurant on the 25th floor of the Habana Libre Hotel, the tallest building in Havana. You will have a breathtaking view of the City, and dine with your colleagues. For after dinner activities please refer to your Registration Kit for information about the many wonderful night spots in Havana. This evening is on your own.


9:30 am Bus departure from Hotel Parque Central - to Las Terrazas (Biosphere), an all day excursion to a unique, rustic community of farmers and artists, inhabiting a rural, sustainable development that encompasses 5000 hectares of forest in the heart of the Sierra del Rosario Reserve. You will receive an overview of the history of the Biosphere by the Director of the Rancho Corojey; experience the lush endemic flora and fauna; and visit the ruins of the Buena Vista coffee plantation and San Juan River pools. You will enjoy a broad spectrum of the local arts culture including: ceramics, recycled paper, silk screening, vegetable fibre and wood carving. You will be welcomed at the studios of well known artists; participate in popular games with local Cubans.

Lunch At Casa del Campesino (House of the Farmer) is included

Late Afternoon Transfer back to hotel. After this activity packed day, may we suggest you might wish to relax by the pool and enjoy a mojito, stroll the grounds, visit the hotel spa, or gym, on your own.

Evening at leisure on your own. Please refer to your Registration kit for suggestions of local night spots and restaurants.


9:15 am Introduction to panel of Cuban artists - Dr. Ernesto Marzoa

9:30 to 10:15 am Panel of Cuban artists will share their experiences with mental health issues, and the relationship between creative expression and their evolution of healing and recovery (in Spanish with English translation). (Panel 30 minutes/15 minutes Q&A)

10:15 to 10:45 am "Healing And Recovery Through The Arts" Video Presentation of Spark of Brilliance - Judith Rosenberg, Founder (20 minutes/10 minutes Q&A)

10:45 to 11:15 am Coffee Break (30 minutes)

11:15 to 12:15 pm "Artevida" - Introduction by Dr. Ernesto Marzoa, to a panel of members of the staff of Artevida, who will provide an overview of the goals and accomplishments of this arts-based initiative offered at the Community Mental Health Centre of Playa.

12:15 to 1:15 pm Lunch provided in the hotel dining room

AFTERNOON ACTIVITIES from 1:15 TO 4: 15 pm

1:15 to 3:15 pm Twinning in "Recovery Through the Arts" - ceremony & an exchange of artistic gifts by Cuban and Canadian artists, with remarks by the Cuban Minister of Culture, Abel Prieto, and the Canadian Ambassador to Cuba, Alexandra Bugailiskis. This will be followed by greetings from John Jones, Executive Director of the Canadian Mental Health Association, and Kenneth Murray, Chief Executive Officer of the Board of Directors, Homewood Health Centre.

Entertainment: A performance by La Colmenita, an internationally known children's theatre troupe, and James Gordon, well-known Canadian Musician, Song-writer, and mental health activities, who will perform the theme song he has written especially for this conference.

3:15 pm Arts-based Recovery Therapies International (ARTS International) - a discussion of the Goals and Objectives of ARTS International - led by Dr. Ernesto Marzoa & Judith Rosenberg

3:30 to 4:00 pm Organization of committee for ARTS International, Dr. Ernesto Marzoa

4:00 pm to 4:15 Closing remarks from Dr. Gustavo Torroella, Director Catedra de Educacion Para El Desarrollo Humano, at the Institute of Instituto Pedagogico Latioamericano y Caribena (IPLAC).

4:00 to 4:15 pm Wrap up and checkout information - Bonnie Eccles, your conference travel consultants

6:30 pm Attendance at Gala Celebration - AlegRia! - (Joy/Gladness and Laughter)
A sumptuous dinner at the exquisite Café del Orient , where you will be entertained by the resident musicians.


Check out Before 9 am

9:30 am Depart for ELAM (Latin American School of Medicine)

10:15 to 11:30 am Visit and tour of ELAM

11:45 am Depart for Havana International Airport to arrive by 12:30 pm

Important Notices:

  • Itinerary and flight times are subject to change without notice or penalty.

  • Delegates must have 25 CUCs (Cuban convertible pesos) ready at the airport for departure tax

  • The service charge to change Canadian money to Cuban convertible pesos is 8%

  • The service charge to use a Canadian credit card 11%

  • Deposit of $250.00 is non refundable as of August 1st.

BON VOYAGE … See you next year!

Post script: Should you wish to arrange additional days in Cuba, (Havana or Varadero) please connect with your travel consultant Ms. Bonnie Eccles.

We would like to extend our extreme gratitude to the Managers and Staff of the Hotel Parque Central; the various people for their generosity in arranging the Conference room art exhibition; the citizens of Playa for their hospitality; the staff of The Community Mental Health Centre of Playa, Homewood Mental Health Clinic and supporters, the tour operators and ground events planners, the artists, musicians, and photographers, Government officials, and Ambassadors, members of the mental health communities of Cuba and Canada, and all those who have contributed to the planning of this conference!

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