New event to promote mental health and the arts in Wales

A festival is about to beheld around Wales for the first time, to help showcase the role andrelationship between mental health and the arts.

‘Little Sparks’ will see seminars,exhibitions, performances, workshops and a film screening held in variousvenues over the next couple of months.

The festival’s name is taken from aquote by the late Robin Williams, who said ‘You’re only given a little spark ofmadness, you mustn’t lose it.’

‘Little Sparks’ has been co-ordinatedby Disability Arts Cymru and Making Minds and is funded by the Arts Council ofWales and the Royal College of Psychiatrists. A number of other organisationsare involved with the festival in different ways, including Ynys Môn aGwynedd Mind, Arteffact, Vale of Clwyd Mind / Musical Meatballs in Mind,MaDCaff, Blackwood Little Theatre, Pembrokeshire Mind, Motiv8, Wales MillenniumCentre, Ucheldre Centre, the National Botanic Garden of Wales and LlandoughHospital.

Proceedings will get underway onTuesday 6th October withan event called ‘Making Minds, Giving Voices’ at Gwdihw in Cardiff and will endwith exhibitions at the Ucheldre Centre, Holyhead and Llandough Hospital in theVale of Glamorgan, that will both run until the end of the year. Full detailsof the ‘Little Sparks’ programme can be found online at www.littlesparks.rocks.You can join in with the festival conversation on Twitter with the hashtag#littlesparks15.

It’s hoped Little Sparks will informplans for a larger festival, to be held in autumn 2016.

Mark Smith, founder of Making Minds,said: “Wales is the only part of the UK and Ireland yet to have an artsfestival dedicated to mental health.  Such events elsewhere have helpedreduce mental health stigma and discrimination, raise awareness of mentalhealth, celebrate the relationship between creativity and mental health,individuals and local organisations have had their work highlighted under abigger, national banner.  Generally the role of art and creativity inmental health has received greater recognition.  It’s becoming a way oflife in the mental health sector, the arts sector and elsewhere.”

Sara Mackay, Operational Director,Disability Arts Cymru said: “’Little Sparks’ will just be a taste of what weintend will become an all Wales annual event.  We have been overwhelmed bythe ground swell of support and enthusiasm for this initiative and by workingin close partnership with the arts and mental health sectors we have broughttogether a diverse programme of events across Wales.   

“A BIGTHANK YOU to our funders, the Arts Council of Wales and the Royal College ofPsychiatrists and to all those organisations and venues who have shown supportfor this venture by providing match funding, both in kind andfinancial.”   

For more information on Little Sparks,please contact Disability Arts Cymru on 029 2055 1040 or by e-mail at littlesparks2015@gmail.com.