Online Programme Announced for the Scottish Mental Health Arts Festival 2020

We are delighted to announce a special programme of online activity for the Scottish Mental Health Arts Festival (SMHAF), including live-streamed events, film screenings and five new artist commissions. 

SMHAF’s online programme will begin in May, when this year’s festival was due to take place, including during Mental Health Awareness Week (18th-24th May). It is designed to support the festival’s creative communities, regional networks and dedicated audiences, and to create opportunities for engagement and conversation at a time when live events are not possible.

Eat. Move. Sleep. Repeat. is an online project curated by artists Emma Jayne Park and Emily Furneax, exploring how we can better support ourselves and each other. Taking place over four weekly sessions, the project provides an opportunity for artists to come together in a safe and accessible environment to share in conversations around creative practice and strategies for survival during this period of isolation. Each session will focus on the work of an invited artist who explores either food, movement, sleep or ritual in their work. They will share an example of their work, lead a creative task and answer questions about their practice, leading to broader discussions with those in attendance.

There will also be an online version of Though This Be Madness (pictured), by Skye Loneragan, which was to have toured Scotland as part of this year's SMHAF. A theatre show set in a lounge room, Though This Be Madness features a recovering mum who is attempting to tell you many tales of sisterhood struggles with mental health. The show is now undergoing an experimental re-framing - supported by SMHAF - to see how it can be shared with other lounge rooms, live online. Skye will be sharing quirky, questioning process-bites along the way via SMHAF's website.

SMHAF will also commission five new artistic responses to the theme 'my experience of isolation', which can be showcased online. In the midst of the coronavirus crisis, we want to amplify the creative voices of people who already understand isolation, in the interests of solidarity, empathy and the sharing of wisdom and experience. The successful proposals will be compellingly presented and have something insightful to say about the causes and effects of isolation and mental health.

SMHAF is also supporting Bijli Productions to develop a film version of One Mississippi, a theatre show about how childhood trauma shapes men's adult lives, taking them to breaking point. One Mississippi was also to have toured Scotland as part of this year's festival.

Further highlights from SMHAF’s online programme include:

  • Selected screenings from the SMHAF international film programme, including an announcement of the winners of our International Film Awards.
  • Filmed versions of theatre shows previously seen at SMHAF, including Super Awesome World by Amy Conway, Electrolyte by Wildcard Theatre, and Hysteria by Julia Taudevin, all showing online for a limited time.
  • SMHAF Socials, a regular online gathering for artists to share coping strategies, hosted by the festival’s associate artist Emma Jayne Park.
  • Showcases of work from across our regional programmes, including a digital exhibition. 
  • An illustrated ebook and online showcase for our Writing Awards, in partnership with Bipolar Scotland.

SMHAF is also pleased to announce a new partnership with the Northern Irish Mental Health Arts Festival (NIMHAF) which will see the festivals collaborate and share content and ideas between the nations. NIMHAF will take place from the 18th-24th May.

The SMHAF website, and all of the festival’s social media channels, including FacebookTwitter and Instagram, will be regularly updated with programme information. You can also subscribe to our newsletter for weekly updates during May.

Gail Aldam, Arts and Events Manager at the Mental Health Foundation, said:

“In this unprecedented and difficult time, it is more important than ever for us to continue to connect with our incredible festival community and bring entertainment and important mental health content to our audiences. While we were obviously disappointed not to be hosting our annual festival in its usual form this year, we are delighted to be able to showcase an online programme of events beginning in May, creating opportunities for engagement and conversation and supporting artists to create new work. In presenting the Festival in this way, we are also taking the opportunity to explore ways that we can use digital content to make our festival even more accessible in the future and reach a wider audience.”

The Scottish Mental Health Arts Festival is led by the Mental Health Foundation and supported by national partners: Creative Scotland, See Me, NHS Lothian, NHS Greater Glasgow & Clyde, Royal College of Psychiatrists, D'Oyly Carte Charitable Trust, Sir Maxwell Harper Gow Charitable Trust and Lady Eda Jardine Charitable Trust.