The Future Is Ours Festival and A Prescription for Life Symposium

The Future Is Ours Festival and A Prescription for Life Symposium


How a new way of seeing the creative process might be part of the answer to the mental health needs for young people.


4th - 31st May 2024, Manchester

A festival celebrating youth creativity is now at the heart of the response to mental health pressures on young people. Run by mental health charity, 42nd Street via their dedicated creative space The Horsfall, ‘The Future Is Ours’ is a unique arts festival celebrating young people’s creativity, voice and ideas. The festival puts young artists at the forefront of the work, allowing them to say and create what they want in the way they want and, in the process, offers them valuable support with increasingly challenging mental health pressures.


42nd Street has over 40 years’ experience in supporting young people with their mental health and wellbeing and since they launched their creative venue, The Horsfall, in 2016 they have been looking at how creativity and art play a role in supporting mental health and they think they have found the answer.


Young people access 42nd Street for myriad reasons including, anxiety, low mood, isolation and low self-confidence and The Horsfall offers a safe creative space for them to explore and develop coping mechanisms that work for them as individuals. There are no rules in art and the young people that 42nd Street work with feel liberated to explore what works for them and confident in the knowledge that they have autonomy and that they matter in the process. 42nd Street do not prescribe or dictate their creative journey, but instead work alongside young people to support them in developing their own self-care practice through creativity and self-prescription of their own ‘Active Ingredients’.


The ‘Active Ingredients’ theory proposes that traditional fixed interventions such as restrictive school curriculums, medication or therapeutic approaches can sometimes be passive and inflexible for individuals prescribed them and, there are in fact multiple routes to positive outcomes. The theory works to identify the specific therapeutic aspects of an intervention which bring about change. 42nd Street understands from first-hand experience that each individual will benefit from different approaches and alongside a young researcher they employed have been working to identify the active ingredients of their creative space, The Horsfall. They have identified key active ingredients, including social connection, creativity, action, agency and belonging which young people can explore and engage with in the ratio they need. Whether that takes the form of connecting with peers or being creative, 42nd Street and The Horsfall offer the space for young people to develop their own recovery journey ‘recipe’ alongside experienced and supportive professionals. 42nd Street believe this process and creative way of being goes on to support a person throughout their life.


‘We don’t judge the use of sport by young people or suggest there is no point swimming as you’ll never be in the Olympics, but we seem to suggest that art is not worth doing for its own sake. There is so much in the creative process that allows us to process difficult past experiences and emotions. This is historically how people have always made sense of life.’’ Rod Kippen, Clinical Lead for Creativity and Social Action


Building upon their experience and work and with a view to helping other organisations use this successful model of mental health support, 42nd Street will also be hosting its first national symposium – ‘A Prescription for Life‘ as part of the festival. This symposium and campaign invite and implores services, including CAMHS, Social Care, Education and VCSE’s, to explore how creativity can support the young people in their care and attendees will hear directly from young people. As well as having the chance to speak with other attendees including Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham, Head of the Arts Council, Darren Henley and NHS England National Lead for Children and Young Peoples Mental Health, Sarah Brown.


42nd Street will share the finest examples and outcomes of their work, as well as The Horsfall’s ‘Active Ingredients’ with symposium attendees and explore and celebrate the impact of creative activities when paired with more traditional mental health services. They will be hosted at a variety of cultural spaces across Manchester and will fill the city with art, posters, billboards and live performances created by young people for ‘The Future Is Ours’ festival.


42nd Street CEO Simone Spray said; ‘We are not so niaive to think that creativity is the only answer. We are, as a mental health charity, fully aware of the pressures many young people are facing due to financial instability and global and environmental news. We do however know that the solutions to many of societies issues will take confidence, imagination and action which we can nurture in the creative space. There is a great richness in the work young people are creating and we are hearing directly from them, without restrictions or conditions.’


What's on when?

Look out for Street Posters and Billboards across the city from 29th May.

Join us at The Horsfall for the exhibition between 4th - 31st May, 

Joins us online for the live streaming of the symposium and an expert panel discussion chaired by Darren Henley, Managing Director of The Arts Council England.





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