Youth Action Gala performance turns spotlight on mental health
Inspired by real-life stories and discussions on mental health issues, Belfast-based performing arts group Youth Action concluded the tour of their new drama Domino with a gala performance at their studio space in College Square North.
The event marks the end of a series of performances, reaching out to young people in communities across Northern Ireland who may be affected by issues including cyber-bullying, peer-pressure, depression and suicide.
The project is one of 15 to have received funding in January as part of ARTiculate, a new arts funding programme set up by the Arts Council of Northern Ireland National Lottery funds and Public Health Agency (PHA) to give a voice to the issues affecting young people. The £600,000 will be rolled out over three years to support arts projects across Northern Ireland.
Speaking about the project, Maire Campbell, Artistic Director of Youth Action, commented:
“Domino is a powerful performance and workshop that places the spotlight on mental health especially in young people. It is performed by teenagers and is based on real life experiences. The concept is that life can be like a domino, once one thing falls everything can fall - but the project offers hope and practical ways to ‘get up’ again?
“Projects like this, that tackle mental health issues in a skilful and sensitive manner, are simply invaluable. Art has the ability to affect us on a unique and deep level; therefore using the arts to reach out to those who are silently suffering can make a real difference and I genuinely believe may even save lives.”
Lorraine Calderwood, ARTiculate Programme Manager, Arts Council of Northern Ireland, commented:
“The positive links between engagement in the arts and wellbeing are firmly established.
“Working together with the Public Health Agency, we are supporting a diverse range of projects that open up opportunities for young people to engage in the arts and the many benefits that brings, such as promoting self-expression, and developing self-confidence and self-motivation.”
Mary Black Assistant Director of Health and Social Wellbeing Improvement with PHA, said:
“This programme is a great example of using arts to give a voice to young people and encouraging help-seeking behaviour. We recognise the positive impact that the arts can play in improving the mental health and wellbeing of our young people. The young people involved benefit in a number of ways such as making new friends, learning new skills, gaining confidence in their abilities. They also learn about the mental health support that is available.”
The first 15 organisations to be awarded funding through the ARTiculate programme were announced in January. The programme will run over three years and it is anticipated that approximately 35 projects will benefit from funding. The programme is delivered by artists and arts organisations working in partnership with youth and community organisations linked to the PHA across a range of health improvement themes.