Tijana Stepanovic
Advisor - Russia | Hungary | Poland

MINDSCAPES festival to take place in spring 2021

MINDSCAPES festival to take place in spring 2021

MINDSCAPES challenges artists to explore how our surroundings can be a cause of social alienation, anxiety and depression, but also how we can find solace.

In the frame of DutchCulture's collaboration with the Dutch Embassies worldwide, we are happy to introduce the MINDSCAPES project. The project is based on collaborations between the UK and Netherlands-based artists and organisations from various fields. Together with the Dutch Embassy in the UK DutchCulture initiated the project and selected SICK! Festival as its partner for realising the programme.


MINDSCAPES is a collaboration between cultural institutions in Manchester and The Netherlands which challenges artists to explore the ways in which our surroundings can be a cause of social alienation, anxiety and depression, but also, how we can find solace and support in the world around us.

A groundbreaking new public-facing arts project – beginning in March 2021 – will see artists from The Netherlands and Manchester come together both online and in local communities to create challenging artistic responses to issues around mental health in our cities.

A two-year cultural cooperation programme funded by DutchCulture in partnership with the Dutch Embassy in the UK, MINDSCAPES will create five new projects spanning performance, visual and digital arts stimulating dialogue, knowledge-sharing and network-building between organisations from across a wide range of sectors in Manchester and the Netherlands.

Projects will be showcased in April 2021 and include an exploration of mental health in neighbourhoods across Greater Manchester by artist Jan Rothuizen whose work will be seen across the city’s Metrolink network. Amsterdam-based youth theatre group Theater DEGASTEN will work with young people growing up in care in Greater Manchester and the Netherlands. Rotterdam-based Merel Smitt will create a new online project that explores the impact that the benefits system has on people’s mental health. Poets Elten Kiene and Sjaan Flikweert will work with Manchester-based poetry charity Young Identity and migrant communities in North Manchester to create new poems that reflect their sense of place in the community. Composer and music producer Yonatan Collier will work with Manchester-based Brighter Sound and artists and musicians from North Manchester to create a soundscape, reflecting and shaping people’s emotional experiences in Moston and Harpurhey.

A unique space for cross-sectoral thinking and reflection

The aim of MINDSCAPES is to foster a unique space for cross-sectoral thinking and reflection, where a range of perspectives from the Greater Manchester and Netherlands can come together and consider the most effective ways to deploy cultural activity for a social benefit.

Helen Medland, CEO and Artistic Director of SICK! Festival:

“MINDSCAPES will take a bold look at our city, working in and around local communities and artists to understand and inform debate around the power of environment to shape us and our mental wellbeing. From the use of green spaces and urban gentrification to the role of architecture and even our interaction with the benefits system, our programs will take a magnifying glass to the issues that affect our sense of self, our mental health and our place within society.
“Our interaction with physical spaces – whether in our homes, private or public spaces – has been dramatically altered by Coronavirus. We believe that now is a really important time to look again at the ways in which the physical spaces, confinements and institutions in our cities shape and affect our mental health.
“We are grateful to be funded by DutchCulture in partnership with the Dutch Embassy and look forward to delivering a programme that will have a profound effect on the communities and partners involved.”

In addition, MINDSCAPES will include a series of events and panels under the MINDSCAPES UN-Conference banner aimed at health practitioners, academics, community workers, activists and anyone with a keen interest in exploring mental health in the urban environment.

Further details to be announced.