Colm Mac Con Iomaire, Robert Grace, Willzee and more to perform at Mental Health Arts & Culture Festival 2022


OPEN, the mental health art and culture festival for the first half of 2022, will run from Sunday January 2 to Sunday January 16.

First Fortnight has announced its eclectic 2022 schedule for the organization’s Mental Health Art and Culture Festival, featuring a host of well-known names from comedy, music and literature.

Each year in the first two weeks of January, First Quinzaine creates a space in which they aim to challenge mental health stigma through the arts and the art of conversation. Indeed, this was the catalyst for the creation of the festival in the beginning. 11 years later, the First Fortnight Mental Health Art and Culture Festival is a welcome and go-to friend that opens the country’s annual calendar of events.

In 2022, new and old participants and contributors are officially showing. Renowned poet Stephen James Smith, Colm Mac Con Iomaire (violinist, composer and film music arranger), Ruairí McKiernan (author and activist), Mikey Graham (producer, musical artist with Boyzone), Ciara Ní É (ambassador of the Center d Irish Writing and DCU Writer in Residence 2020), musician Robert Grace, The Two Norries, Rory Draper (visual artist), Ann Ingle (author and Irish Book Award nominee for Open heart), poet Geoff Finan and writer, author and presenter Stephanie Preissner are among the names who will lend a helping hand to tackle mental health stigma.

EMBODY will see choreographer and curator Tobi Omoteso collaborate with filmmaker Stephen Hall, musician and mental health advocate Mamobo Ogoro with Yumi Lee, William “Willzee” Casey, Sara Granda and Walter Nied to create a film of dance. Shot in Limerick, he seeks to explore the embodiment and physical representation of music, speech and rap through the form of dance. EMBODY is supported by funding from the Arts Council of Ireland.

WHAT IF BRITNEY SPEARS WAS IRISH? is a panel discussion exploring the Irish version of Guardianship and the historic changes coming in 2022 and is presented by First Fortnight in partnership with Mental Health Reform. BREAKING THE BUBBLE, an exhibition of Rory Draper’s work, will be on display at Presentations Arts Center, Enniscorthy. CHIME, a beautiful evening of music and spoken word is presented by First Quinzaine in partnership with the HSE office for recovery and engagement in mental health. Balbriggan Gospel Choir joins the festival lineup for its first performance with “Hands Open”.

Therapy sessions are also coming back. The popular gathering of poets and musicians offers round tables and essential interviews hosted by Jim Carroll of RTE (To joke), Ian O’Riordan of The Irish Time (Corinthian) and Arts & Culture writer and journalist Nadine O’Regan (The art of anxiety). In addition, musical events Cistine and My story, my song return and The Dublin Story Slam; the open mic night of storytelling hosted by award-winning comedian, writer and broadcaster Colm O’Regan. We are also delighted to welcome the return of our film partnerships with the Irish Film Institute (IFI) and the Alliance Française.

With 40% of the 60+ festival events online, the festival is accessible to a national audience. However, the First Fortnight is also excited to host in-person events once again. A wide range of disciplinary events will take place in eleven counties. As with # FFFest21, registration is required for all online events – even if the event is free. Once registered, an access link will be issued to you before the shows. All details can be located on

“The past two years have opened the conversation around mental health in new ways and there is a welcome realization of how fragile and resilient we are when it comes to our own mental health,” says Maria Fleming. , CEO of First Quinzaine. However, the bottom line question for the first fortnight is how the conversation has changed, if at all, from the stigma attached to poor mental health. Are we more open now to discussing anxiety and well-being? Does our comfort level extend to an opening to discuss depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia or OCD? “

“As the First Fortnight opens again, it’s time to reconnect and decide, are we picking up where we left off or has the conversation evolved since our last in-person meeting?” At First Quinzaine, we believe the conversation has evolved since we last met; but there is so much more to do and we are up to the challenge.

Later this afternoon, Maureen Kennelly of the Arts Council will be in conversation with the new CEO of First Fortnight, Maria Fleming. Maria and Maureen’s conversation can be viewed on the First Fortnight digital platforms from 4:30 p.m.

“Having worked in the arts for over 20 years and after many years working at festivals, I look forward to once again discovering the healing power of coming together with others for cultural activity,” Fleming adds.

“I hope you will join us to experience participation, witness the work of various artists, challenge the status quo through engagement as a member of the public or actively participate in cultural workshops.” . There is a lot to discuss, a lot to explore and First Fortnight wants you to start 2022 with us, questioning, celebrating, exploring and investigating mental health, stigma and change through two weeks of cultural activity. with high octane number.


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