Do you have experience of working on performance-based projects that address mental health? Would you be willing to talk about this with a small group of other artists as part of a Mental Health Foundation project?  

Developing a ‘mental health arts good practice resource’

The Mental Health Foundation is developing a new ‘mental health arts good practice resource’ for artists and arts organisations. This is in response to an increase in: the number of artists explicitly addressing mental health in their work; interest in this work among audiences, events programmers and funders; and focus on the lived experience of marginalised groups.  

While much about this cultural change is welcome, we have observed that it is also creating new issues to do with best practice, imbalance of power, safeguarding, consent, and the welfare of artists and other participants in this work.    

The kind of questions we are asking include:  

  1. What do artists and arts organisations need to consider when making creative work about mental health?  
  2. What do people in positions of power need to be aware of when working with artists or participants who are potentially vulnerable?   
  3. What barriers are there in the arts to people living with mental health issues?  
  4. How helpful are practices such as check in sessions, exit interviews, and working with wellbeing co-ordinators? 
  5. What needs to be done better?  

Take part in a focus group

To explore these questions further we want to run 1-2 small group workshops in February 2024, online via Zoom and/or in person in Glasgow.   

We are seeking around ten people in total to participate in these. We want to bring together as diverse a range of participants as possible, and are interested in including artists at any stage in their creative or professional development. However, essential qualities in each participant would include: 

  • Experience of working on some form of creative project that explicitly addressed mental health 
  • A willingness to share what you learned from this experience (for clarity, you will not be asked or expected to disclose any personal mental health issues) 
  • A willingness to engage in a group conversation (involving no more than 4-5 people) which will involve discussion of mental health as a theme.

The workshops will last two hours and all selected participants will be paid £84 (Scottish Artist Union recommended rate of £42 per hour). We can also cover travel expenses and access costs, and provide captions / BSL interpretation.  

Please note that the session will be recorded and an edited transcript made publicly available as part of the project. We are happy to remove names of participants and some sections of the transcript and ultimately nothing will be used without your written consent. 

The deadline for this opportunity has now passed. If you would like to contribute to the wider project, you can get in touch with Andrew Eaton-Lewis at aeaton-lewis@mentalhealth.org.uk.

Image: Work-in-progress performance of May Contain Nuts (*) by Skye Loneragan at SMHAF 2023. Credit: Ingrid Mur.