People across Scotland are being encouraged to take time out to make Saturday, 11 May A Day of Conversation.

There are also a host of associated events and activities taking place throughout May as part of the wider 2019 A Year of Conversation initiative.

The Scottish Mental Health Arts Festival (3 to 26 May) has a series of events planned (see below) and is emphasising the value of conversation to health and wellbeing.

Voluntary Arts Scotland is also involved through its Get Creative festival (11 to 19 May) which includes Food For Thought, A Conversation Around Foodon the opening day.

Other events on 11 May range from a Jolly Roger’s Tea Party to gatherings of writers (see

A special toolkit has been created full of suggestions – we’ve listed a few at the bottom of this release – for people wanting to arrange their own activity. 

The2019 A Year Of Conversation projectcelebrates the positive power of conversation, to open minds and counter growing social polarisation.

Tom Pow, Creative Director, said:“The Day of Conversation is a great chance to take part in an organised event, or to set up something of your own – we’ve got all sorts of ideas. It can be as simple as arranging to meet friends for coffee and suggesting they each bring someone new.

“Or you could seize the moment and use 11 May as a chance to finally contact an old friend you have fallen out of touch with, or make that difficult call you have been putting off for so long.

“Conversation is an incredible thing; it can start friendships, change feelings, transform perspectives and even end conflict. In a world where we are becoming so tribal and polarised we need it more than ever.”

Rob Dickie, Manager, Scottish Mental Health Arts Festival, added: “Conversation is a vital part of the Scottish Mental Health Arts Festival, especially this year as we are celebrating all the ways in which we stay connected. 

“Talking to people is such an important thing to do for our mental health, which is why conversation has always been at the heart of our events, from post-screening discussions during our film programme to community gatherings, artists’ talks and afternoon teas taking place in communities across Scotland. 

“We hope you will join in with A Day of Conversation on Saturday 11 May, whether you are taking time to talk about your mental health or simply connecting with others in your community.”

Food For Thought is being run in partnership with the Scottish Poetry Library. It will be an afternoon of good food and good conversation – an opportunity to connect with others through food, and to share memories, recipes and delicacies from childhood.

A few ideas for things to do on the Day of Conversation: 

  • See a film (play, concert, sporting occasion) with friends. Discuss your expectations before you go. Have a conversation afterwards about whether they were met.
  • Invite friends for a meal. In their water/wine glass leave a folded piece of paper with something different written on each piece that you think will get them talking.  
  • In your group of friends or within your organisation, start THE conversation you should have but always avoid. Bring the elephant into the room.
  • Invite people round, telling them to bring something that is important in their lives. They each tell the story of the object.
  • Take a companion on a “pilgrimage” to a place you used to go when you were young. Or ask friends to describe a pilgrimage they would like to make – include all the five senses. 
  • Get children to take older people on a “play walk” and older people to take children on a “memory walk”.
  • It could be in a park or country lane, or at a museum or gallery.
  • Leave your mobile
  • at home.

Download the toolkit from   

Day of Conversationevents can be listed on the Get Creative website – and Voluntary Arts Scotland will help get the word out. Or email Kelly Donaldson at  

A Year of Conversation is working with many organisations including the National Library of Scotland, Scottish Book Trust, The Stove, Voluntary Arts Scotland, Highlight Arts, The Lyceum Theatre, the Scottish Storytelling Centre, The Scottish Poetry Library, The Playwrights’ Studio, Literary Alliance Scotland, Edinburgh International Books Festival, Wigtown Festival Company, StAnza, DG Unlimited and the University of Glasgow. 

– Ends –

Notes for editors

For further media information contact Matthew Shelley on 07786704299 or Matthew@ScottishFestivalsPR.Org.  

Event details

About A Year Of Conversation  

  • A Year of Conversation is designed to celebrate, to initiate and to explore conversation in Scotland and beyond. 
  • It is being produced by the Peter Pan Moat Brae Trust.
  • The initiative has been developed in conversation with a wide range of partners within arts and community sectors. A Year of Conversation is a collaborative project designed to celebrate, initiate and to explore conversation through the arts. 
  • Find out more at


The Scottish Mental Health Arts Festival is one of Scotland’s most striking and provocative cultural events, encompassing music, film, visual art, performing arts, dance, and literature. The annual Festival takes place in venues across Scotland throughout May (previously October), aiming to support the arts and challenge preconceived ideas about mental health. By engaging artists, connecting with communities and forming collaborations, the Festival celebrates the artistic achievements of people with experience of mental health problems, explores the relationship between creativity and the mind, and promotes positive mental health and wellbeing.

The Festival is led by the Mental Health Foundation in association with the following national partners: See Me, Scotland’s programme to end mental health stigma; Creative Scotland; NHS Lothian; A Sense of Belonging; NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde; The Royal College of Psychiatrists; and Scottish Forestry (formerly Forestry Commission Scotland). The Festival is also supported by hundreds of arts, community and public organisations across Scotland. 

About the Mental Health Foundation

The Mental Health Foundation is the UK’s charity for everyone’s mental health. With prevention at the heart of what we do, we aim to find and address the sources of mental health problems so that people and communities can thrive. The Foundation is a UK charity that relies on public donations and grant funding to deliver its work. The Foundation is proud of the vital role it plays in hosting, developing and managing the Scottish Mental Health Arts Festival.

SMHAF 2019 Conversation Events 

  • We Are All Connected: Taking place over the course of a single day at CCA: Centre for Contemporary Arts, We Are All Connected gives members of the public a unique chance to have a one-to-one conversation with some of our award-winning filmmakers. Participating filmmakers are Iain Cunningham (Irene’s Ghost), Hannah Currie (We Are All Here), Victoria Thompson (I Love You), José Carlos Teixeira (On Exile, fragments in search of meaning) and Aoise Tutty Jackson (An Open Door).
  • International Film Programme:Conversations will connect filmmakers from Scotland and across the world with mental health communities, artists, campaigners, health professionals and audiences throughout our international film programme. Screenings will take place at CCA: Centre for Contemporary Arts, Flourish House, Glasgow Film Theatre, Filmhouse, Grassmarket Community Project, Eden Court and An Lanntair, almost all followed by a conversation:
  • Day of Failure: A day of discussions, presentations and workshops that consider, question and reflect upon failure. Culminating in a work in progress sharing ofEpic Fail, the latest performance from SMHAF Associate Artist Emma Jayne Park. Ideal for anyone who has ever failed!:
  • Mental Health within Artistic Practice: Artist Emily Furneaux speaks to Davey Shields of MenTalkHealth about her festival project She stepped backwards in front of the words behind her, in relation to the wider components of understanding and navigating personal experiences of mental health:
  • Real Talk: Storytelling for Wellbeing:An evening of storytelling, connection and honesty, creating a safe space to speak about one of our most beautiful assets, our minds! Attendees are offered an opportunity to gain insight and understanding into the individual experiences of the speakers:

About Voluntary Arts Scotland and Get Creative

  • Voluntary Arts Scotland is part of Voluntary Arts, which works across the UK and Ireland to celebrate, promote, encourage and advocate for voluntary/amateur arts participation. 
  • Visit for more information. 
  • The Get Creative Festival, which will run from Saturday 11 to Sunday 19 May 2019, encourages creative groups to open their doors to newcomers and welcome them in – and individuals to put a date in their diary to try something new. 
  • For more information, visit