The Workman Theatre Project (WTP) has had 12 successful years of fostering artistic excellence in people who have received mental health or addiction services. While we celebrated its unique artistic contributions, we also wondered if there were similar companies elsewhere and whether we could bring them together. Two years ago, we proposed that the WTP join with the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) to present an international festival showcasing such groups as well as artists whose work explore mental health.
The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health has long recognized that the arts can be a powerful tool to initiate dialogue about important mental health issues to overcome the stigma attached to them. We know that many people who have experienced mental illness are also gifted artists who triumph over their illnesses to make valuable contributions to the arts community.
The Workman Theatre Project of Ontario is a professional arts company that has had more than 12 years' experience integrating artists who have experienced mental health services with arts professionals. WTP has produced more than 10 original new Canadian plays, toured to more than 30 theatres across Ontario and Manitoba and played to more than 100,000 people. It has produced 13 festivals (10 of which were the annual Rendezvous with Madness film festival) and eight art exhibits.
The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health is the largest mental health and addictions facility in Canada. It is a teaching hospital affiliated with the University of Toronto and the World Health Organization. Its principal tasks are: advancing our understanding of mental health and addiction and translating this knowledge into practical resources and tools that can be used both in its own programs and in the broader community, work that is key to preventing problems, finding more effective treatments and improving the quality of life for people struggling with mental illness and addiction.
Harbourfront Centre, on Toronto's waterfront, is an innovative non-profit cultural organization that creates, for a diverse public, events and activities of excellence that enliven, educate and entertain. Working in partnership with various communities, Harbourfront Centre nurtures and supports educational and recreational activity as well as contemporary artistic creation through showcasing Canadian and international talent.