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Arts festival returns after two year forced break

This news post is 8 months old

Back with a full programme of events

The Scottish Mental Health Arts Festival (SMHAF) is exploring the theme ‘Gather’ as it returns to live audiences across Scotland for the first time since 2019.

The programme of events is unveiled today on the SMHAF website and in printed brochures available in community and cultural venues across Scotland. 

The three-week festival takes place from 4 – 24 May 2022 with over 200 events and activities, including both live and online programming, covering theatre, film, writing, visual arts and music. 

Now in its 16th year, the festival will open on 4 May with Gathering, a showcase of festival highlights and new commissions at the CCA in Glasgow as well as online.  Throughout the Festival, more Gatherings will be happening across Scotland to celebrate the arts, promote good mental health and wellbeing, and bring communities together.

Gail Aldam of the Mental Health Foundation, said: “We are delighted to be welcoming artists to ‘Gather’ with us and share their incredible work exploring mental health issues, challenging stigma and demonstrating how engagement with the arts can improve wellbeing.  The theme of ‘Gather’ was inspired by the longing to come together, connect and share experiences after two years of restrictions but we are also questioning what it now means to gather as we enter a post-pandemic age.

“We are hugely excited to be returning to live venues with SMHAF this year. While the last two years have been challenging, it did allow us to reach new audiences in Scotland and beyond with our online events, which is why we will continue to offer digital events as part of our commitment to inclusive and accessible programming.”

The festival coincides with Mental Health Awareness Week (9-15 May), also hosted by MHF which, this year, is examining ‘Loneliness’. Research by MHF has found that loneliness has been exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic. The week will raise awareness of the impact of loneliness on our mental wellbeing and the practical steps we can take to address it.

SMHAF is one of Scotland’s biggest, most diverse festivals. Its unique approach – programmed from the ground up by a team of regional co-ordinators all across the country, in combination with a film and theatre programme curated by the Mental Health Foundation – ensures it connects with audiences that other arts festivals often struggle to reach.

The SMHAF 2022 programme is online now at with nationwide Festival listings.



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