AitM 2019

Mental health arts festival goes digital

A Hampshire arts festival that aims to shine a light on mental health is to take place online this year, offering visitors a unique viewing experience.

The All in the Mind Festival usually takes place in Basingstoke in September with more than 30 music, dance and performing arts acts from across the UK. Due to the coronavirus, festival director Leigh Johnstone, has decided to take the festival digital instead of cancelling it.

A bespoke streaming platform is being built so multiple live acts can take place at the same time, allowing visitors to go from stage to stage in real time. This will be the first multiple live streaming platform built for festivals and will allow visitors to go from stage to stage to see the acts they wish to see, just like they would at a live event. The website, which is being developed by Hotshot Creative Agency, will also include pre-recorded content from the festival line-up.

The first All in the Mind festival took place in 2016 with 79 visitors and over the year’s audiences have grown. Last year’s festival was attended by more than 1500 people and Leigh, who is from Bursledon, was determined for the event to take place this year, despite the current global pandemic.

He said:

Coronavirus is having an effect on us all, especially on our mental health. We were adamant that the Festival should take place this year in some way – the topic of mental health is so important, now more than ever. I am delighted with the digital platform, which is being developed and allow us to hold the event, instead of postponing. It means our acts will still be able to perform and enable us to bring the diverse and quality performances to a wider audience.

The All in the Mind Festival is being launched in Mental Health Awareness Week (18 – 24 May 2020). The coronavirus is having an impact on many people’s mental wellbeing. With people expressing widespread concerns about the effect of social isolation or social distancing on well-being including increased anxiety and depression* the launch of the All in in the Mind Festival is even more important.

From today (Wednesday 20 May) artists from the worlds of poetry, dance, music and theatre, wishing to perform at the All in the Mind Festival are now able to register their interest. Acts should visit to apply.

The festival, which has received funding from Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council as well as £16,000 from Art’s Council England, is an exciting, fun, family friendly event that uses the arts to stimulate conversations and share experiences around mental health.

Artists’ work should be tailored to be viewed digitally and performers will be supported by Hotshot Creative when producing their work for the Festival.

All in the Mind is run by Fluid Motion Theatre Company, which Leigh set up in 2010 to deliver performances on a wide range of mental health themes as well as delivering education and community work. Drama helped Leigh deal with his own mental health experiences. His mother was an alcoholic and he had to raise his two young sisters. This had a profound effect on his mental health. The stress caused him to lose his hair and he experienced severe depression and anxiety. He now knows he also experienced post-traumatic stress.

He said:

My childhood was a very traumatic time, which took its toll on my mental health and wellbeing. It was incredibly tough and sad. But I found comfort in drama. It allowed me to deal with what was happening in a safe space and my love of performing enabled me to face a lot of things that happened to me and my family. Through the All in the Mind Festival and Fluid Motion, I want to be able to help others with their mental health – not just the audiences but also the performers as well.

Fluid Motion is also a partner of the Without Walls Creative Development Network; a network that supports arts organisations across England with peer learning, knowledge and skill sharing to organise and deliver new festivals.

Over the next few months more details on this year’s line will be announced. All in the Mind takes place on Saturday 12 September. Visit for more information and to sign up to receive updates on the development and launch of the brand new platform.

Photo: AitM 2019

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