Wales-wide arts festival to break down the walls around mental health stigma

The Welsh mental health arts festival is back for a second year!

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

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

  • Celebrate the relationship between the arts and mental health
  • Educate, reduce stigma and challenge perceptions around mental health
  • Increase access to/involvement in the arts for those experiencing mental ill health
  • Provide a platform and raise the profile of emerging and established artists living with mental illness
Terence-Jaiden Wray - Exhibiting at Hearth Gallery, University Hospital, Llandough
Cai Thomos - dancing in a red top and grey trousers with his arms in the air and head tipped away
Cai Thomos - Workshop at the WMC

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

We believe very much that arts and film are conduits for raising awareness and facilitating change, and that artists have always played a key role in social movements and addressing issues. They are central to change and there is a need for both attitudinal and behavioural change around mental health, by both the wider society and those who work within services.”

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

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

Further information on the festival will be released in due course, including a more detailed programme. You can find the festival on Facebook at and on Twitter @wallsmuriau2016. A festival website is being developed, the address for which will be released soon.

Our Funders for this year are:

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