New event to promote mental health and the arts in Wales

A festival is about to be held around Wales for the first time, to help showcase the role and relationship between mental health and the arts.

‘Little Sparks’ will see seminars, exhibitions, performances, workshops and a film screening held in various venues over the next couple of months.

The festival’s name is taken from a quote by the late Robin Williams, who said ‘You’re only given a little spark of madness, you mustn’t lose it.’

‘Little Sparks’ has been co-ordinated by Disability Arts Cymru and Making Minds and is funded by the Arts Council of Wales and the Royal College of Psychiatrists. A number of other organisations are involved with the festival in different ways, including Ynys Môn a Gwynedd Mind, Arteffact, Vale of Clwyd Mind / Musical Meatballs in Mind, MaDCaff, Blackwood Little Theatre, Pembrokeshire Mind, Motiv8, Wales Millennium Centre, Ucheldre Centre, the National Botanic Garden of Wales and Llandough Hospital.

Proceedings will get underway on Tuesday 6th October with an event called ‘Making Minds, Giving Voices’ at Gwdihw in Cardiff and will end with exhibitions at the Ucheldre Centre, Holyhead and Llandough Hospital in the Vale of Glamorgan, that will both run until the end of the year. Full details of the ‘Little Sparks’ programme can be found online at www.littlesparks.rocks. You can join in with the festival conversation on Twitter with the hashtag #littlesparks15.

It’s hoped Little Sparks will inform plans for a larger festival, to be held in autumn 2016.

Mark Smith, founder of Making Minds, said: “Wales is the only part of the UK and Ireland yet to have an arts festival dedicated to mental health.  Such events elsewhere have helped reduce mental health stigma and discrimination, raise awareness of mental health, celebrate the relationship between creativity and mental health, individuals and local organisations have had their work highlighted under a bigger, national banner.  Generally the role of art and creativity in mental health has received greater recognition.  It’s becoming a way of life in the mental health sector, the arts sector and elsewhere.”

Sara Mackay, Operational Director, Disability Arts Cymru said: “’Little Sparks’ will just be a taste of what we intend will become an all Wales annual event.  We have been overwhelmed by the ground swell of support and enthusiasm for this initiative and by working in close partnership with the arts and mental health sectors we have brought together a diverse programme of events across Wales. A BIG THANK YOU to our funders, the Arts Council of Wales and the Royal College of Psychiatrists and to all those organisations and venues who have shown support for this venture by providing match funding, both in kind and financial.”

For more information on Little Sparks, please contact Disability Arts Cymru on 029 2055 1040 or by e-mail at littlesparks2015@gmail.com.

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