Fantastic First Fortnight Arts Festival gets underway

by Padraig Conlon

First Fortnight, the annual Mental Health Art & Culture Festival, kicked off last week for another month of thought-provoking events.

The Festival utilises arts and culture to challenge mental health stigma while supporting some of Ireland’s most vulnerable people through creative therapies.

In Ireland, one in four people are predicted to struggle with their mental health at some point in their lives.

The themes for this year’s Festival are loneliness, isolation and community.

First Fortnight began as a kitchen conversation 10 years ago and has grown from one event in 2010 to 119 events in 17 counties, across 62 venues this year.

Some of the contributors at this year’s Festival include The Blindboy Podcast, Ham Sandwich’s Therapy Sessions, Richie Sadlier, Pat Kinevane’s Silent, a world premiere by Stephen James Smith with the Irish National Opera and many more family and child-friendly events, music, sports, comedy, theatre, film, panel discussions, listening events and workshops.

In addition, comedian, writer and broadcaster Colm O’Regan, former athlete David Gillick, international rugby player Hannah Tyrrell, actor Tadhg Hickey (CCCahoots), musician John Spillane and actor John Connors with further special guests to be announced.

“We have always seen First Fortnight as the antidote to the themes we decided to focus on within this year’s festival programme,” David Keegan, CEO, First Fortnight told Dublin Gazette.

“It’s through community driven initiatives like First Fortnight, the opportunity is created to extend an invitation for connection to address feelings of loneliness and isolation, which we all experience but also heavily stigmatised just like mental health.”

Edel Doran, First Fortnight Programme Co-ordinator, extended an invitation for everyone to get involved.

“It is through consistent changes in our community, society as a whole can be changed,” she said.

“We invite you to attend our festival and leave feeling part of our ever-growing community, empowered to be part of the change.

“One person can always make a difference and as one community, we can make a profound impact.”

Find out more information about First Fortnight on www.firstfortnight.ie.

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