Ireland’s first mental health arts festival is under way. The First Fortnight 2012 festival kicked off on Wednesday January 4 and continues until Saturday, January 14. Centered around Dublin’s cultural hub of Temple Bar the festival promotes positive mental health and aims to reduce stigma that surrounds it. First Fortnight 2012 is being staged in association with See Change, the national mental health stigma reduction partnership.

The festival is using live music, spoken-word, theatre, film, photography, street and other visual arts to create open discussion and understanding of mental health problems and challenge stigma. Some of the country’s most exciting artists and performers have agreed to share their time and talent to stage Ireland’s biggest and most ambitious programme of mental health-themed arts and cultural events taking place during the first two weeks of 2012.

Live music, spoken-word, theatre, film, photography, street and other visual arts are being used to create open discussion and understanding of mental health problems and challenge stigma. Royseven, whose single We Should Be Lovers was the most-played Irish single on Irish radio in 2011, will headline the final festival event in the Button Factory on the 14 January which boasts a line-up of Cashier No.9, Le Galaxie, and REA.

Commenting on Royseven’s involvement in First Fortnight 2012, front-man Paul Walsh said ‘The promotion of positive mental health among young people is very important to me. Expression through the enjoyment or performance of music plays a key role in this process, so I’m delighted to be involved in First Fortnight with Royseven, bring it on!’

First Fortnight founder and project manager JP Swaine added: ‘We hope people come to First Fortnight because this is a genuinely high-quality programme of arts events. That way we hope they will go into the year ahead touched by a really strong message about reducing the stigma that surrounds mental health and hopefully go forward with some confidence into 2012 to be the change they want to see.’

See Change’s campaign manager Kahlil Thompson-Coyle explained that ‘Mental health problems are part of the fabric of life. We want to use the arts to explore the many facets of mental health and foster a shared understanding of the mental health problems that can affect any of us.’

Amongst the highlights of this two-week festival programme include real-life theatre piece 565+ as seen in the 2010 Dublin Theatre Festival; acclaimed biopic documentary The Devil And Daniel Johnson; exhibitions from visual artists Mary A Kelly and William Hamilton; and a series of celebrated new Irish short films from directors Joanna Rubin Dranger, Stephen Crilly, Patrick Semple, Hugh O’Connor and Mary Redmond.

The two-week festival programme kicked off on January 4 with the first of three evenings named the ‘Therapy Sessions’ in Dublin’s Workman’s Club, featuring a mix of poetry and spoken word performances accompanied by live music from Delorentos, Verse Chorus Verse, Mark Geary, We Cut Corners and many more. Broadcaster and See Change ambassador Claire Byrne joined Royseven frontman Paul Walsh to kick off the festival by unveiling specially commissioned street art by ADW, Morgan and Solasnow on display at locations around Dublin city centre – one of the many artistic diversions taking place across the city from January 4-14 as part of the festival.

To find out more about First Fortnight visit


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