Artists from across Europe are headed to Ireland this January to challenge mental health stigma.
One of the Creative Ireland Programme’s 30 National Creativity Fund initiatives, Irish mental health arts charity First Fortnight is hosting Europe’s Mental Health Arts & Culture Festival 2019. Along with actor Emmet Kirwan, screenwriter and playwright Stefanie Preissner, musicians The Academic and Saint Sister, and former athlete David Gillick; the festival will welcome representatives from 16 European countries to showcase mental health-related music, theatre, film and spoken word.
For the past ten years, in the first two weeks of January, First Fortnight has staged events nationwide that challenge mental health stigma and start important conversations, 2019 will see the festival’s events involve our European neighbours too.
With 150+ events taking place nationwide, just some of this year’s highlights include the Irish premiere of Beautiful Boy starring Steve Carell and Timothée Chalamet; French, Belgian, Italian and German cinema; children’s mindfulness workshops, positive mental health circus workshops for children living in Direct Provisions centres; and a series of in-depth discussions on mental health and sport.
First Fortnight European Mental Health Arts & Culture Festival 2019 will also feature works of theatre, including German-based Gifty Wiafe’s powerful It’s In the Blood (pictured above) – staged in Dublin and Waterford; while Dublin’s Smock Alley will stage Infinity – winner of the First Fortnight Award at Dublin Fringe Festival 2018.
Flying one of the festival’s artistic flags is Irish artist Emma Sheridan. Her exhibition Warpaint at the Science Gallery, Dublin is a result of her social media callout to anyone who wanted their portrait painted. During the artistic process, she spoke with them about their experience of mental health, resulting in a powerful collection of emotive paintings.
Renowned Irish bands Saint Sister and The Academic will curate Therapy Sessions, two nights of music, spoken word and poetry – each with spoken word artist Stephen James Smith on compere duties.
While a designated day of music, poetry, street arts and panel discussions is on the cards thanks to OutStraight and All Out Design. The All OutStraight Block Party line-up includes actor Emmet Kirwan, Dublin rapper Mango, Senator Aodhán O’Ríordáin, spoken word poet Lewis Kenny, poet/writer Colm Keegan and many more.
Exploring pressing issues in creative ways, 2019’s edition of the thought-provoking and insightful festival might just be the best yet.