City of Salem Closes on Small Business Loan with The Artful Life

$50,000 small business loan to support counseling center and studio in move from Beverly to 142 Canal Street in Salem.

Mayor Kim Driscoll and the City of Salem, through its Department of Planning and Community Development, is pleased to announce that the City has closed on a loan through its Small Business Loan Program with The Artful Life Counseling Center & Studio.

The $50,000 loan will support The Artful Life’s expansion and move from its current location in Beverly to its new location at 142 Canal Street in Salem. It will specifically assist with the purchase of new furnishings for additional clinical offices, waiting rooms and studios, art supplies, and working capital. 

The Artful Life, founded as a group practice in 2016, specializes in the niche field of expressive arts therapy and offers an alternative to traditional mental health counseling for individuals of all ages throughout the North Shore region. Expressive arts therapy is a mental health profession integrating a diverse range of art forms, including visual arts, movement, drama, creative writing, music, and play in order to assist clients in visualizing emotions, reduce stress, increase self-awareness, and improve social skills. As the only group practice on the North Shore that specializes in expressive arts therapy, demand for The Artful Life’s services has steadily increased, leading to a weeks- or even months-long waiting list for services. To minimize their client wait list, co-owners Natalie Blue, LMHC and Madelene Pario, LMHC, sought expansion opportunities – office space and staffing – eventually leading them to the space at 142 Canal Street, a Symes Associates property.

The City’s Small Business Loan program is funded through Salem’s federal Community Development Block Grant allocation, which supports economic development activities and the creation of jobs for low- to moderate-income individuals. Over the past decade, the City has provided over $435,000 to local businesses through this program, resulting in the creation of more than 60 new jobs for low- to moderate-income people. As a condition of its loan funding, The Artful Life will be creating at least three, new full-time positions for low- to moderate-income individuals. These positions will be a mix of clinicians and administrative staff and are only a small portion of the overall staffing expansion plans The Artful Life intends to fulfill in the next three years.

“We believe that the power of art making allows individuals to feel more connected to themselves, to others, and to their community. Our move to Salem allows us to expand our practice, hire additional therapists and support staff, and lower client wait times,” stated Blue and Pario. “The City of Salem’s Small Business Loan program allowed us to put all of the funding pieces together to support our business as it continues to grow.”

“Thanks to our Small Business Loan Program, we are able to support our local business community and create new job opportunities right here in Salem,” said Mayor Driscoll. “The Artful Life provides an important service to the North Shore region and I look forward to welcoming them to Salem this spring. I also want to thank the staff in the Department of Planning and Community Development who oversee the loan program and work closely with our business community and prospective business owners, to give them the support and guidance they need to succeed right here in Salem.”

For more information on the City’s Small Business Loan Program, please contact Kate Newhall-Smith in the Department of Planning and Community Development at 978-619-5685. Program information can be found at