The NEFELE Festival, the first European Mental Health and Arts Festival was held in October 2016 was an impressive collection of mental health themed art events with 600 artistic participants from 23 countries.
The “NEFELE” Conference, which was realized on Friday 27th and Saturday 28th of January 2017 in Athens with great success, marked the conclusion of the activities of the homonymous project and, most importantly, the founding of the Network of European Art Festivals for Mental Life Enhancement (“N.E.F.E.L.E.” Network).
After an open consultation on the Network’s Statute, which had begun in November 2016, 22 organizations from 10 European countries, the members of the Constituent General Assembly and founding members of the Network, decided on the adjustments on its Statute, as well as on the mission, the goals and the operating function of the Network, the main aim of which will be the establishment and development of Art Festivals for Mental Health across Europe.
The project was funded by the European Union under the Creative Europe Programme / Culture Sub-programme and implemented by a partners’ scheme of organizations from five EU Member States.
The Networking European Festivals for mental Life Enhancement(N.E.F.E.L.E Project) project was realised within the frame of the Creative Europe Program of the E.U., its topic being the connection of Art with Mental Health and its objective the fight against the stigma of mental disease, the promotion of the works of professional & mentally suffering artists and the projection and reinforcement of social entrepreneurship models for the artists and the mental health users.
A long journey towards the networking of Art Festivals for Mental Health at European level started back in January at Dublin, where the first meeting of the NEFELE project took place during First Fortnight 2016.
Subsequently the second European Mental Health Arts and Cultural Festival was hosted in Ireland by First Fortnight in January 2019. To see our programme of events which saw 202 events across 24 counties and over 12,000 attendees, click here.
The project is coordinated by the Greek organization, EDRA KSDEO, utilizing its long experience on the conjunction of Mental Health and Art through the Art4more festivals, which has been staged in Greece for the past nine years.
Active members of the partnership included First Fortnight / Ireland; Funtation Intras / Spain, Euronet / Italy; and ASOK /Lithuania. The participation of these members creates a support axis starting from the Northwest of Europe, crossing along the European south and ends at the southeast end of the European Union.
The beneficial relationship between the Arts and mental health has been well documented, the NEFELE festival is working to develop this relationship further. Research has shown that a wide number of mental health arts organisations exists within the EU, with different approaches and methods. It has however been noted that some countries have a lower number of such organisations, this is something that the NEFELE project has the potential to change.
This documentary was produced for the first European festival held in 2017:
The project had its focus in the following, prioritised, objectives:
Connecting Art and Mental Health through the establishment of festivals on Art and Mental Health in all European countries
Promoting artists in expertise and business models at the fields of mental health and social entrepreneurship.
Internationalization and dissemination of works of professional artists and mentally ill people as well as of the organizations involved.
Increase public awareness and accessibility of new common groups (eg vulnerable groups).
Offer welfare and business opportunities to mentally ill people who have special talents.
The goals based on the objectives were:
Organisation of the first European pilot Art Festival for Mental Health in Athens, in October 2016.
Establishment of the European Network Art Festival for Mental Health and organising its Founding Congress in Athens, in January 2017.
Support of four (4) local festivals organized by the project partners in their countries
Development of tools for the professional support of the artists
Networking and promoting the idea of an art festival that focuses on mental health throughout the EU
The benefits of the NEFELE European Mental Health Arts Festival were as follows:
the reinforcement of local, existing, mental health art initiatives
the encouragement of their development, as there is sizeable room for growth throughout Europe in this area
the enrichment of the organizations with several activities
the transfer of expertise and fellow peer advice alongside the exchange of good practice and policies
providing a platform for cross cultural exchange that could help reduce organizations’ costs
the growth of work aimed towards eliminating social stigma
the contribution of formatting strong and unified European politics regarding the combination of both fields, Art and Mental Health
For more information on the NEFELE network, please see here.