Wales-wide arts festival to break down mental health stigma

The Welsh mental health arts festival is back for asecond year!

Organised by Disability Arts Cymru, Ynys Môn and Gwynedd Mind and Making Minds, the festival will see anumber of events take place, around Wales, this October and November.

Funded by the Arts Council of Wales, Royal College ofPsychiatrists in Wales, National Centre for Mental Health / MRC Centre (CardiffUniversity) and Voluntary Arts Wales, the festival will:

–        Celebrate the relationship between the artsand mental health

–        Educate, reduce stigma and challengeperceptions around mental health

–        Increase access to/involvement in the artsfor those experiencing mental ill health

–       Provide a platform and raise the profile ofemerging and established artists living with mental illness

The theme of this year’s festival is ‘Walls : Muriau’.Out of the creative minds of those with and without lived experience of mentalill health, the festival will explore the walls put up and the barriers, bothphysical and attitudinal, that exist for those affected by mental illness.

Sara Mackay, Director, Disability Arts Cymru said: “Inan arts and mental health context, walls can take on many meanings. It could bethe walls of the mind, the walls of a gallery, theatre or cinema screen, ahospital, the box you feel you might fit in with a diagnosis, or the walls youneed to overcome due to stigma. It could even be the walls you’ve brokenthrough in recovery!”

The festival’s programme includes four days and nightsof events and activities hosted by the Wales Millennium Centre, including aperformance from Only Boys Aloud. Gwyneth Lewis, the inaugural poet of Wales,will also be performing at the venue that features her words ‘In these stoneshorizons sing’. Other activities at the Wales Millennium Centre includeworkshops, performances on the Glanfa stage and a series of short plays in theWeston Studio. Re-Live, an organisation that supports veterans who areexperiencing Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, is among those performing.

There will be an exhibition, play and film screening atthe Ucheldre Centre, in Holyhead. Representatives of the Scottish Mental HealthArts and Film Festival, which inspired the Welsh festival, will be involved inthe film screening. Other expert speakers will gather for a series of talks anda film screening at Galeri, in Caernarfon, while leading landscape artist IwanGwyn Parry will explain how painting is ‘an ointment to keeping him well’.

The North Wales part of the programme will be completedby a photography exhibition, featuring images captured by local young people.

Back in South Wales, there will be a month longexhibition at the public Hearth gallery, at Llandough Hospital. There will alsobe an event at Celf o Gwmpas, in Llandrindod Wells, while Blackwood LittleTheatre will be staging its ‘Ruins of Talgarth’ production at several venues.

Clare Bailey, Ynys Mon a Gwynedd Mind said “Following the success and positive feedbackfrom our events as part of the Welsh Mental Health Arts Festival last year, weare looking forward once more to our thought-provoking, questioning, creativeand inspiring events this autumn.

We believe very much thatarts and film are conduits for raising awareness and facilitating change, and thatartists have always played a key role in social movements and addressingissues. They are central to change and there is a need for both attitudinal andbehavioural change around mental health, by both the wider society and thosewho work within services.”

Mark Smith, Making Minds said: “We’re thrilled that thefestival is being held again this year. We’re grateful for the support from ourfunders and the efforts being made by our fellow organisers. The festival hasdefinitely made good progress since last year, which will hopefully lead to amore interesting, entertaining and thought-provoking experience for everyonewho engages with the events and activities being held.”

Mark, Sara and Clare came together last year, to foundthe Welsh mental health arts festival.

Further information on the festival will be released indue course, including a more detailed programme. You can find the festival onFacebook at facebook.com/wallsmuriau and on Twitter @wallsmuriau2016. Afestival website is being developed, the address for which will be releasedsoon.