Anti-Stigma Arts Fund

Launched in 2021, the Anti-Stigma Arts Fund gave individuals, groups and organisations the chance to apply for funding for arts projects in any medium that aim to tackle mental health stigma and discrimination.

Over the years, artists, makers and creators have used a huge range of different media to challenge stigmatising attitudes and behaviours associated with mental health.

The arts can offer a really powerful platform for people to share their experiences, and show what the reality is for people living with mental health problems.

Launched in 2021, our Anti-Stigma Arts Fund provided an opportunity for people and groups across Scotland to take forward an arts project which aims to tackle mental health stigma and discrimination.

The 2023 projects

The fund is in its third year and received 73 applications this time around.

From those applications, we are delighted to announce funding for six fantastic projects in 2024, which are listed below.

Empower Women for Change | Beyond the Canvas

Glasgow’s Empower Women for Change will facilitate a series of trauma-informed creative sessions that shine a light on the unique experience of discrimination faced by black and minority ethnic women with experience of mental health issues.

The resulting artworks will be showcased in a community exhibition at the Byres Community Hub, in the School of Health and Wellbeing at the University of Glasgow.

The project seeks to stimulate dialogue among researchers, individuals who share a commitment to mental health awareness, and those who use the Byres hub. A digital art gallery hosted by the hub will also present the artworks, testimonials and pictures.

Maryhill Integration Network Museum of Things Art Group and Monuments for Equality | Monuments for the Present

Monuments for the Present’ is a participatory action research project co-created by the creative initiative Monuments for Equality (Paria Goodarzi, Mia Gubbay and Francesca Zappia) and Maryhill Integration Network Museum of Things Art Group.

It will be presented in two exhibitions at the Centre for Contemporary Arts and the School of Health and Wellbeing, University of Glasgow, during the Glasgow International and Refugee Scotland festivals in June 2024.

Over the past few years, public monuments in the UK have been the focus of debate and action that question dominant narratives of national identity, imperialist extraction, and white supremacy.

The project investigates how social and structural inequalities influence people's experience of the past, present and future, how this experience shapes different value systems, and how these values can be represented in the public space. It inherently tackles stigmas (institutional, public and self) through facilitating ways that enable people with lived experience of navigating the immigration system as refugees and asylum seekers, to collectively claim and reimagine the public space of the city.

Music Broth | The Solace Choir

Music Broth, working closely with The Survivor Arts Community, will further develop a community choir made up of female-identifying survivors of domestic abuse and sexual violence.

The project, based in Glasgow, will be shaped by the Solace Choir members themselves, and a singing and music tutor will help them create a safe space for creativity and collaboration, tackling multiple forms of stigma, including the stigma around mental health. The project will culminate in live choir performances during the Scottish Mental Health Arts Festival in October 2024, including pieces composed by the participants themselves.

Orkney Blide Trust | Headspace Showcase

Orkney Blide Trust is Orkney’s only dedicated mental health charity, providing support to those who need it, 365 days a year. The Headspace Showcase is a creative festival that aims to both challenge misconceptions around mental health and raise awareness of Blide and the therapeutic opportunities they make available.

It’s a space where members’ creative work, focused on lived experience and mental health recovery, can be celebrated and shared. Last year, the event was a mixture of music production, poetry, drama and photography.

Rowan Alba | Conversational events

This unique Edinburgh homeless charity will run a series of six open-conversation mental health events across National Galleries Scotland, led by clients with lived experience of trauma and alcohol related harm, and using gallery exhibits to explore different issues. Sessions will be facilitated by a freelance artist and backed by a community support worker and volunteers. Rowan Alba with then hold an exhibition to showcase the project as part of Scottish Mental Health Arts Festival 2024.

Sarah’s Sanctuary | Slipping Through the Net

Sarah’s Sanctuary is a peer support group on Stornoway for people bereaved by suicide. Developed by members of the group, and facilitated by a local artist, the Slipping Through the Net project will be a supportive space to explore creativity and tackle the stigma associated with suicide in an island community. The project hopes to use art to move participants further along their healing journey, while collaborating on a final artwork that will be displayed at An Lanntair Art Centre.

Keep an eye on this page for updates about the projects!

The 2022 projects

Last year the fund received more than 40 applications from organisations and individuals across Scotland. From these applications, we are delighted to announce we are funding four fantastic projects.

Collectively these projects plan to produce a comic, two films and a spoken-word showcase.

Dr Isa Rao & Tom van den Hurk ‘Hear Me Out

Filmmakers Dr Isa Rao and Tom van den Hurk, will work in collaboration with three male suicide survivors who are passionate about de-stigmatising the topic of suicide.

They will create a film which tackles stigma around male suicide by providing a glimpse into the lives of the project participants. The film will show them with their families but also engaging in the activities that provided them with peace and calm during tough times.

Bazooka Arts

The project aims to create a high-quality community film that through the process of creating it provides a therapeutic context for participants to explore their own experiences of mental health-related stigma.

It is hoped that the finished film will have an impact on the wider community, exposing stigma in all its forms, raising awareness, generating discussion, reflection and leading to change in attitudes and behaviours for audience where that is needed.

SAY Women

This project will engage a group of young women to work with an artist-researcher to create a Public Information Comic which will explore, map and illustrate the particular difficulties faced by survivors of sexual abuse in relation to mental health stigma and discrimination.

The comic will be used to engage women accessing SAY Women services, stakeholders and the public to improve understanding and facilitate conversations around this topic.

Icebreaker Dundee

This project is a showcase of Dundee-based spoken word performers, sharing pieces on their experience of mental health problems and specifically on the intersection between mental health and perceived gender.

It aims to challenge mental health stigma, focusing on challenging the well-documented notion that certain mental health problems are gender-specific, which often makes it much more difficult to access appropriate support.

The 2021 projects

In 2021, We received 72 applications from a range of organisations and individuals Scotland-wide, with six projects funded. Below, you can find out more about the first Anti-Stigma Arts Fund cohort.

Tackling stigma through art

Read more about our research into the impact of the arts in anti-stigma work.