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1 June 2022

Creatively Minded and Scottish

David Cutler
As Creative Scotland and the Baring Foundation begin joint investment in arts and mental health in Scotland, David Cutler highlights some great Scottish organisations already at work.

In early May I had the great pleasure of being in Glasgow and Edinburgh and as I thank you I wanted to offer a few reflections on our involvement in creative activity for and by people living with mental health problems and what is coming up on the horizon.

In 2021, Creative Scotland commissioned Rocket Science to map arts and health provision including as regards mental health. Our own newly updated Directory lists 320 arts organisations working on arts and mental health.

We started our funding in 2020 with small grants to arts organisations which included some interesting ones in Scotland including Common Wheel,  Project Ability and Nemo Arts, all in Glasgow, Alma Project in Edinburgh and Art Angel in Dundee. We didn’t get many applications in 2021 for our Creatively Minded and Ethnically Diverse fund from Scotland, but have funded Good Vibration’s Resonate project to work in Gartnavel Royal Hospital.

One of the real strengths of the work in Scotland is the annual festival run by the Mental Health Foundation and now in its 17th year. I was delighted to join the launch programme with a theme of Gather in Glasgow. The opening showcase really demonstrated the skill of the Festival in choosing varied and impressive artists with lived experience of mental health problems. Among many gems, you can see Catherine Grosvenor’s powerful, witty short film. I am delighted that we are supporting the Festival this year in three Community Commissions. I also really admire the brilliant idea of creating an oral archive of the arts and mental health movement in Scotland.

SMHAF: International Film Awards 2019 at CCA, Glasgow.
Photo by Ingrid Mur

Is this the largest arts and mental health festival in the world? Something to take pride in and we are pleased to be supporting sister festivals in Northern Ireland and Wales.

At the same time as the launch of the annual Festival, we were pleased to support Scottish Ballet to run a three day event for young people on the role of dance and mental health at their base in the beautiful Tramshed in Glasgow. A personal highlight for me was to see Witness This by Kevin Edward Turner, the Co-Director of Company Chameleon based in Manchester. It is drawn from Kevin’s experience of Bipolar Spectrum Disorder and is one of the most moving dance pieces I have ever seen and I am sure will be an inspiration for many.

So, what next? I very much hope that we will deepen and expand our funding on arts and mental health in Scotland in future years. As a key step in this we have match-funded Creative Scotland over the next year to explore and support this work. Initial projects will include grassroots activity grants, support and training for participatory artists active in this field and investigating joint work with the NHS.