From January to March 2019, I have undertaken a placement as part of my Arts Management, Policy and Practice MA. Prior to my masters, I have worked in music, films and visual arts festivals, which I truly enjoyed. As I wanted to return to this domain while challenging and enhancing my professional experience, I chose SICK! Festival for my placement course unit. SICK! Festival’s mission is to inspire and encourage public discussion of the complexities of mental and physical health. With its diverse programming, which includes dance, theatre and comedy shows as well as public conversations and art installations, SICK! Festival also encourages people to change how they perceive their minds and bodies, a mission that is of particular interest to me.
I first met with Tim Harrison, the creative director and founder of SICK! Festival to discuss my interests and define the tasks I would carry out for a period of twenty days. As I had experience in managing artists, Tim Harrison assigned me the Graphic Encounters project. It consisted of putting in contact two academics from the Manchester Metropolitan University with an artist from Finland and another from Glasgow. The academics, artists and participants worked together to create a piece of art in the form of a poster to explore social isolation that young people undergo when suffering from a mental health issue. With this project, SICK! Festival aims to promote the opening of the Greater Manchester Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services, which will hopefully allow adolescents to alleviate some of the difficulties they might encounter in their everyday lives.
Working at SICK! Festival allowed me to put into practice the theory I had studied in the cultural policy and arts management course units in semester one. For instance, as I mentioned my interest in receiving a practical introduction to the festival’s funding processes, Tim Harrison suggested that I fill in a funding application for one of the artists. I also did some research for the marketing director. This task enabled me to acknowledge the importance of research in expanding an organisation’s reach, especially when it is growing and aiming to develop its international and local partnerships. Overall, working at SICK! Festival has challenged my educational and professional practice as well as enhanced my knowledge of mental health issues.