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Loneliness, isolation and community are themes explored in First Fortnight Festival 2020

Launched this week, the mental health art and culture festival will look at the themes through a variety of different kinds of events starting in January 2020.


Written by Maria Hogan and posted in news


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First Fortnight Festival 2020 was launched this week by Minister of State for Mental Health and Older People, Jim Daly. This year the focus and themes explored in the mental health art and culture festival are loneliness, isolation, and community.

Earlier this year Minister Daly said: “Loneliness affects people across all walks of life, young and old, rural and urban dwellers those living alone or with others.”

The festival, proudly sponsored by SpunOut.ie, hopes to bring hardworking volunteers, families, organisations and charities together to create a First Fortnight community.

What is it?

Each year First Fortnight brings thought-provoking and conversation-inducing art across the country to challenge mental health prejudice and stigma. First Fortnight hopes to inspire conversations about mental health through these cultural events.

Events will include:

  • Family and child-friendly events
  • Music
  • Sports
  • Comedy
  • Theatre
  • Film
  • Panel discussions
  • Listening events
  • Workshops

What’s on?

There will be more than 100 events taking place in 67 venues all over the country. Some of these include:

The Blindboy Podcast Live

The Blindboy Podcast Live will be taking place in the Button Factory, Dublin on the 3rd to the 5th of January. Blindboy will have special guests each night covering a range of topics, including the very important subject of mental health. Each guest will be announced on the day of the show.

The Secret Life Of Colour

Taking place in the Presentation Arts Centre, Enniscorthy artist Nicola Anthony hopes to help you beat the January blues. The workshop uses colours and inks to help participants find calm and happiness through creativity. No art experience is needed and all experience levels welcome. This event is taking place on the 18th of January. Tickets and information are available here.

Therapy Sessions

Therapy Sessions is a staple of the festival with nights in both Dublin and Cork.

The Dublin events, taking place on the 10th and 17th of January will be MCed by spoken word poet Stephen James Smith. HamsandwicH will be curating the music and guests will include Leyla Josephine, a spoken word artist and theatre maker from Glasgow and James Crickard, a poet who explores personal experiences and LGBT themes.

Stephen James Smith will also be the MC for the Cork event, taking place on the 11th of January. Guests in Cork include:

  • Mongoose, band
  • Bohdan Piasecki, poet
  • John Spillane, musician, songwriter, performer, recording artist, storyteller, poet
  • Matilda O’Mahony, singer-songwriter

How Aria?

How Aria? is a community opera project. Composer Amanda Feery and poet Stephen James Smith worked with service users of St Patrick’s Mental Health Services to create a new concert aria. It is in collaboration with the Irish National Opera.

The premiere of this opera will be taking place in St Patrick’s University Hospital during First Fortnight Festival on Sunday the 12th of January. The event will also include a discussion around the process of the piece’s composition as well as a performance of Goldbeater's Skin by Christopher Cerrone.

When is it?

First Fortnight starts on the 2nd of January 2020 with events running up until the 5th of February.

How can I get tickets?

Tickets and information about all the events are available on the event page on firstfortnight.ie.

About First Fortnight

First Fortnight aims to bring a focus on mental health to the beginning of each year through art and culture.

Throughout the year First Fortnight provides creative therapy to people experiencing homelessness, at risk of homeless, mental illness and dual diagnosis. It also provides free mental health care to the cultural sector.

It develops and publishes research about mental health prejudice and discrimination and about the effectiveness of its services.




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Published Decem­ber 3rd2019
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