The future of All in the Mind Festival, an annual event that last year attracted 6,000 visitors, is in jeopardy, with organisers, charity Fluid Motion Theatre Company, forced to cancel the 2023 festival because of a lack of funding.
For the past seven years, the event brought thousands of visitors to Basingstoke town centre each September to enjoy family-friendly performances and interactive activities to promote the power of the arts to boost mental health.
Visitor numbers were up 50% in 2022 – but funding cuts, fewer donations and a lack of corporate sponsors mean that Fluid Motion can’t afford to run the festival – with the Basingstoke-based charity itself at risk of closure.
All in the Mind Festival has always been free to attend and held in a central location with multiple transport links, reflecting the charity’s commitment to making it accessible for as many people as possible.
The non-profit event was a highlight in Fluid Motion’s year-round work producing theatre and arts-based activities to boost mental wellbeing and challenge stigmas around mental health issues.
News of the event’s cancellation will be a blow to the local economy, arts and culture in the region, and the community groups and other charities that were able to promote their services at the festival.
All in the Mind Festival also supported performers in sharing their experiences of mental health and provided a much-needed platform for local and up-and-coming talent to reach a wider audience.
Fluid Motion and All in the Mind Festival Artistic Director, Leigh Johnstone, said: “With the country facing a mental health and cost of living crisis – and town centres struggling to attract footfall – it’s devastating that we can’t deliver this free event when it’s most needed.
“We’re passionate about how the arts can boost mental health – whether you’re the audience or a performer – and All in the Mind Festival gets that message across in an uplifting, inspiring way that speaks to people of all ages.
“Feedback from our audiences was always so positive, including how refreshing it is that the event was free when festivals and days out have become a luxury for many families.
“To keep All in the Mind Festival free we rely on the generosity of funders and kind donations from the public, but the day is by no means free to run and takes a team of us months to organise.
“Unfortunately, this year, we simply don’t have the money to make the festival happen. We hope it can make a return in the future, but with Fluid Motion’s future also hanging in the balance, we can’t promise it will.”
Lack of funding threatens Fluid Motion’s year-round work, helping hundreds of people explore how the arts could positively impact their mental health. The charity works with employers, community groups, schools, health organisations and other charities to deliver one-off sessions or longer-term projects.
Appealing for donations from organisations and the public to keep Fluid Motion running, Leigh Johnstone said: “While we might not be able to save All in the Mind Festival, we’re grateful for any donations to help us continue our work to empower people to explore their emotions, express themselves and, above all, feel better.
“Mental wellbeing affects us all, and every penny we raise helps more people engage with the arts to boost their mental health.
Online donations can be made via Fluid Motion’s Just Giving page justgiving.com/fluidmotiontheatre. Businesses or organisations that would like to know more about corporate donations or sponsorship should contact the charity’s Executive Director, Ali Gill at firstname.lastname@example.org.