We are delighted to announce the full line-up for the 13th Scottish Mental Health Arts Festival, which takes place from 3-26 May 2019. Led by the Mental Health Foundation, SMHAF is one of Scotland’s biggest and most diverse festivals, with the 2019 edition set to explore all the ways in which we are Connected. The wide-ranging programme will host events with asylum seekers, travellers, the LGBT community, and families affected by suicide and other traumatic events, focusing on the importance of staying connected to each other, and the impact of isolation on our mental health.

The festival welcomes Electrolyte back to Scotland for a week of dates at the Traverse Theatre and Tron Theatre. Winner of the 2018 Mental Health Fringe Award, this exhilarating piece of gig theatre tells the story of a young woman isolated from her friends by a psychotic episode, and how she ultimately manages to reconnect with them. Further theatre highlights include Holding it Together, a new performance piece by Jassy Earl and Chloe Smith, two young women brought together by their shared experience of grief; Viola, a solo aerial performance that reimagines Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night to explore isolation and anxiety; and A Day of Failure, which culminates with a work in progress sharing of Epic Fail from SMHAF associate artist Emma Jayne Park.

The Connected theme also runs through our International Film Awards programme, which launches on Friday 3 May with an awards ceremony at the CCA in Glasgow. Hosted by leading film critic Alistair Harkness, the event offers a preview of the award-winning titles featured in the festival and the chance to discover which film will be awarded our prestigious Grand Jury Prize. With a particular focus on family connections, highlights from our film programme include Evelyn, Oscar-winning director Orlando von Einsiedel’s poignant documentary feature about a family processing the loss of a loved one to mental illness, and Irene’s Ghost, in which filmmaker Iain Cunningham tries to find out the truth about his mother, who died when he was three. We are also pleased to support the Scotland-wide release of Final Ascent: The Legend of Hamish MacInnes, which tells of the renowned mountaineer’s journey to recover his identity after illness caused him to lose his memory.

For our visual arts programme, Emily Furneaux has created She Stepped Backwards In Front Of the Words Behind Her, an audio tour of Glasgow that will offer audiences an insight into her experience of psychosis. At our annual celebration Moving Minds, Scottish Forestry and Open Aye, will host a photography exhibition showcasing work produced by diverse communities from the long-term participatory project Wellbeing of the Woods. Exhibitions will also explore issues faced by gypsy/travellers (in Moving Minds’ show in Craigmillar), refugees (Women’s Café Project, Edinburgh) and the LGBT community (Belonging, Glasgow and Queer Connections, Hawick).

One of the most memorable nights of the festival, this year’s SMHAF Writing Awards will be hosted by best-selling author Ian Rankin. Held in partnership with Bipolar Scotland, the event will feature readings from the winning entrants and music from Emma Pollock, followed by a drinks reception. Having previously performed at our Gala for Mental Health, we also welcome comedian Angela Barnes to the festival for performances of her new show Rose Tinted at the Stand Comedy Club in Edinburgh and Glasgow. 

This will be a festival in which we celebrate the connections we’ve already made over our 13 years, as well as making some new ones. Click here to explore the full programme and let us know which events you’re most looking forward to. Stay connected with us on social media using the hashtag #SMHAF19. We look forward to welcoming you to this year’s festival.