Making Minds update – May 2014 – Creative Challenge, mental health arts festival…and more

We’d love to say it’s down to careful planning, but the fact that our Creative Challenge project starts on the first day of Mental Health Awareness Week is a happy accident. However, it’s a nice coincidence, nonetheless.

Creative Challenge is our first pilot project, that is based on the delivery of creative workshops. It’s funded by Time to Change Wales, so the project is aiming to use different forms of art and creativity to tackle mental health stigma and discrimination. The sessions will take place at New Horizons – a mental health charity that is based in Aberdare – every Monday from 12th May – 21st July (expect the bank holiday on May 26th). We’re very grateful for the support we’ve received to make this project happen.

We’ve hired three people to each run three sessions. We’re starting with the acclaimed poet Mab Jones, before Natasha James of Breaking Barriers comes in to deliver digital storytelling workshops, finishing with three weeks of visual art with Rhiannon Gray. Some of the participants are members of the young people’s group at New Horizons, while members of ‘Wicid’ – a news service and website for young people in Rhondda Cynon Taf – will also be joining us, to take part and publish weekly updates on the project. Another handful of people will make up a group of about a dozen. We’re excited to see what the next ten weeks will bring and we have high hopes for the project’s outcomes. We’re intending to host an end of project event, where members of the public and representatives of various organisations can come together, to see what has been achieved throughout the project and to talk to those involved.

If you want to keep updated with the progress of Creative Challenge, keep your eyes on the Making Minds Facebook page and Twitter feed, where we’ll be using the hashtag #creativechallenge2014. As we’ve said, there will also be regular updates on the website.

Creative Challenge is the latest important step for Making Minds which, to remind you, is a constituted community organisation made up entirely of volunteers. Most of us are contributing on top of day jobs and most of us have our own mental health issues to contend with. We have a plan in place for the year ahead, that involves other potential pilot projects, events, the development of a mental health arts co-operative consortium in South Wales and our development as a potential charity or social enterprise.

Earlier in the year, we said we were looking to host a small-scale mental health arts festival. That is still the case, but time is getting away from us to hold one in 2014, and we’ve decided to postpone this until May 2015, to coincide with next year’s Mental Health Awareness Week. We are still planning to hold individual events this year, that will build up our experience of event management, while potentially raising some funds that we could put to good use!

We already have a lot of ideas in mind for the festival, but we’re always happy to hear more. We’ll also be looking to form a festival planning committee – everything that we do is about partnership working and this will be no different. It’s not about us hogging the limelight, it’s about making an event happen that hasn’t taken place in Wales before. It’s about giving a platform to artists, of all types, and mental health, in a cohesive and co-ordinated manner. There’s so much good activity going on in Wales, around the arts, creativity and mental health, but we know it’s not getting the support or publicity it deserves, so we’re trying to shake things up and see new, exciting approaches taken that will have real benefits for all involved. We hope you’ll want to be involved too. We will be looking for sponsors, partners and other contributors in due course.

Look at what’s been achieved in Scotland, then ask yourself why such an event hasn’t been held in Wales before.

Oh, one more thing for now…we have a vacancy for a co-chair, so if you fancy running Making Minds, alongside Mark, let us know. Our e-mail address is

Have a good weekend and an even better Mental Health Awareness Week.

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