Let’s Talk About It!


SICK! Festival faces up to the complexities of mental and physical health. We present an outstanding international arts programme, weaving in perspectives from researchers, clinical practitioners, public health professionals, charities and those with lived experience of the issues we address. Themes are explored through many art forms – dance, theatre, film, spoken word – and through discussion and debate. We present and commission powerful, innovative and engaging work by artists from across Manchester, the UK and the world.  We take the conversation into the heart of the communities where the subjects matter most as well as major cultural venues.

SICK! Festival has grown and evolved since 2013, emerging from reflections on our own lives and the lives of people around us to embrace issues of wider significance for communities and deep importance for individuals. We are constantly guided by those communities and individuals, who ground our work in real-life experience, huge knowledge and immense understanding of the sensitivities of emotive issues. All too often these subjects are kept away from public view and debate. We exist to change that.

More about us

Our Team

Helen Medland

CEO/Artistic Director

Tim Harrison

Creative Director

Celia Makin-Bell

Executive Director

Zoe Martinez

Operations Manager

Steve Vickers

Creative Producer

Our Trustees

Jon Rouse

Chief Officer, Greater Manchester Health & Social Care Partnership

Rowena Burns

Chair of Manchester Science Partnerships and Health Innovation Manchester

Paul Ferry

Executive Chairman of gbpartnerships

Liz Treacy

Solicitor and Monitoring Officer, Greater Manchester Combined Authority

Professor Sandeep Ranote

Consultant Child & Adolescent Psychiatrist Medical Director - Northwest Boroughs Healthcare NHSFT; GM CAMHS Clinical Lead; Visiting Professor in Mental Health - University of Salford & University of Chester

Duncan Craig

Founder/Chief Executive Officer, Survivors Manchester

Our Opportunities



FEB 2020


GM CAMHS (Greater Manchester Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service) have invested in SICK! to develop, deliver and evaluate a pilot programme as part of its new strategy for student mental health and deliver a range of creative activities as part of the wellness strand of the student mental health strategy over the course of 2020/21.

Students will be referred to SICK! via the Student Mental Health Service who will then consult with our Creative Producer and a dedicated Mental Health Practitioner to develop a menu of engagement for them. They will also both be present through the delivery of all the elements of the process to offer support, continuity and help maintain a safe working environment for all involved.

We are asking for submissions from Artists to deliver the following elements of the process;

  • Participatory workshops: artist led workshops developing creativity as a way of exploring their own experiences. The sessions will be carefully pitched to enable participants to participate in ways that they are comfortable with. These sessions are aimed to be 3-4 hours long for a group of up to 10 participants.
  • Creative Conversations: Facilitated conversations with artists about their work, the challenges they have faced and their approach to managing their own mental health and well-being. We envisage these to be intimate events with a small number of participants.

You can lead either a workshop(s) or be the subject of the creative conversation series, or both. They will take place on Wednesday afternoons at locations in central Manchester from May 2020 – March 2021.

Submission process

For the workshop(s) we are asking artists to submit their proposal for a stand-alone workshop or a series of no more than 2 sessions between 3-4 hours in length with a brief outline of content, objectives and outputs.

For the Creative Conversations we are simply asking for an expression of interest to be the focus for one “in conversation” series. From there we will consult with you to find a relevant focus for the event based around your portfolio and artistic practice.

Please email your proposal submissions and expressions of interest to Steve@SICKFestival.com by Friday 10th April 2020.


For the workshop delivery the fee is £300 per session inclusive of planning

For the Creative Conversations the fee is £200 per event


Between the delivery period of May 2020 and March 2021 we will host 10 workshop sessions and 9 Creative Conversations.

Other elements of the programme we are delivering are:  

  • Supported cultural visits: We will offer a range of supported visits to relevant arts events and venues (performances, films, exhibitions etc) including facilitated post-show discussions
  • Tours and careers: We will offer a range of behind the scenes tours of key cultural venues in Manchester including the opportunity to meet senior staff and find out about careers in the arts
  • Future signposting: We will work with students to signpost them onto future activities with our partners which might include: further volunteering opportunities, paid employment in entry level positions, student ticket offers, other participatory projects etc. 

It is the hope that the activities will:

  • Enable participants to create new personal connections
  • Support participants to generate creative dialogue and enable participants to look afresh at their experiences
  • Enable participants to connect with the cultural provision in Manchester as audiences, participants and volunteers/staff
  • Develop creative and employability/life skills, raising aspirations and linking to the regular provision of partners
  • Provide a vehicle for sharing practical information and sign-posting to other services and provision

The project builds on our many years of working with young people and those with mental health issues, and our own personal experience of issues of mental health.