Aisha Sheikh-Akene – A Chair’s festival message

Welcome and thanks for being here. I am excited to contribute to the inaugural Green Ribbon Arts Festival, the first mental health festival in Wales which will demonstrate how the arts can prevent mental illness.

The Mental Health Foundation has a vision for a world with good mental health for all; prevention is at the heart of what we do. 

So, as Chair of Trustees how do I walk our talk? Well, I have a personal mental health toolkit that I have put together over the last four years or so. My daily, weekly and monthly routines encompass a range of different tools, and I don’t do all of them all the time.  It’s a mix of things – ‘doing’ things like yoga and running; and some are just ‘being’, like meditation.  And the arts play a big part of my personal preventative strategy.

Whether it’s musical theatre like Hamilton or dance theatre (mostly at Sadlers Wells) I love the atmosphere and the energy at live performances. I have fond memories from Shakespeare’s Globe last Christmas with my family – and will miss going this Christmas.  

I DJ too, or did before March lockdown and love both recorded music and live music – good quality sound imperative. 

As I sit writing this a wide smile naturally appears, and I remember with great pleasure Ronnie Scott’s at the end of September 2020. I look forward to returning in November.  In the presence of the brilliant talent, either dancers or musicians, I become quite spellbound.  These talents are far removed from mine and it’s awesome to see and hear.  

I too like many of you, I am missing these frequent outings;  when you are there it feels like you are part of a collective; a shared positive experience – and I think we all have appreciated how our relationships really matter. 

Stay safe and well in these changed times,

Aisha 

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