Preview: Instrumental music event

‘Instrumental’ is the punny new title of an event organised by local arts and music organisations, Cloth Cat and Arts and Minds. Previously known as ‘the big gig’, the night is designed to raise money for and awareness of projects that support individuals recovering from mental health problems in Leeds. Given that a number of those participating live with mental illnesses themselves, Instrumental directly demonstrates how making music and being creative can assist with managing a diagnosis. The event is not wholly an exercise in fund-raising and education however, entertainment is also key to making it a success and the organisers have been working hard to secure an impressive line-up which ranges from acoustic acts to an 8-piece funk band, and everything in between!

I was actively involved with last year’s Love Arts Leeds festival and since the Inkwell resource centre in Chapel Allerton opened its doors in 2011, I’ve been keen to see for myself how engaging in creative pursuits can benefit those suffering from illnesses such as depression and anxiety. Hanging around the mental health and well-being joints of North Leeds, it was inevitable that I would eventually run into Arts and Minds Development Worker and event volunteer, Tom Bailey. After a lengthy exchange of emails, we made a date to convene at our friendly local – the Three Hulats – to discuss the aims of the event, the organisations that will benefit from the funds raised, and how volunteers can get involved on the night. What follows is a fuzzily reconstructed and paraphrased version of our conversation:

Settling down over half a pint of mild and a bag of nuts generously provided by Tom – he knows my weaknesses – I immediately asked about the line-up and the acts featured. I recognised a number of names on the list such as folky singer-songwriters Steph Stephenson and Kog Moorcroft, but was intrigued by the addition of a band called ‘Tantz’ who are described as ‘mixing Eastern European Jewish Folk with Ska, Hip-Hop and Reggae’?! With the other acts citing influences as diverse as jazz, northern soul, bluegrass and indie, it looks like Instrumental has all musical bases covered…

Tom: “Dave Lynch (one of the founders of Instrumental) has been recruiting bands alongside Mike Jolly, Project Co-ordinator at Cloth Cat. Dave was also set to play on the night but broke his wrist a few weeks back unfortunately. Both Mike and Dave have done a really good job of making the line-up as eclectic and wide-reaching as possible, so it should be a great night.”

So who are the beneficiaries of the funds raised by the event? Tom: “The money will be split between three local initiatives. First, the Memorial Garden in Menston which commemorates all those that died at High Royds Mental Hospital – Dave Lynch is one of the volunteers on that project. [Nearly 3,000 former patients are buried on the ground in the former asylum, many in unmarked paupers’ graves]. The Cloth Cat organisation is also set to receive funds for their ongoing training programmes, teaching music skills (such as sound recording and DJing) to local people who are unemployed or from disadvantaged backgrounds. Lastly, Arts and Minds will use their share to continue promoting a network of arts groups which support those suffering from mental illness in Leeds.”

Sounds great! Where/when/how much and how do I get involved? Tom: “It is on Saturday 24th March at the Swarthmore Centre on Clarendon Road. 7pm until midnight, only £4! For further information and details on volunteering on the night, please see our event website:”

Cheers Tom, and thanks for the drink and bar snacks – next time mine’s a pint!

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