Story by Brian P.J. Cronin
Photo: Courtesy of Stefan Lisowski
Ever had a band’s music save your life? Now you can return the favor.
The O+ Festival was founded in 2010 in Kingston, in the dark days before the Affordable Care Act, to help one of the most chronically underinsured and uninsured groups out there: artists. Musicians and visual artists who took part in the festival weren’t paid in money, but in on-site medical care from doctors, dentists, massage therapists, healers and other medical professionals. For many artists, it was the first time they had received medical care in years. The festival has not only become an annual occurrence in Kingston, but it has transformed into a national nonprofit with additional festivals taking place in California and Chicago.
A lot has changed regarding health care in America since the festival began. For one thing, the Affordable Care Act became the law of the land, granting access to health insurance to tens of millions of Americans. “When that happened, we had to ask ourselves, is the O+ Festival still relevant?” said Kathleen Murray, who refers to herself as the festival’s “Chief Storyteller.”