The Big Anxiety

Inspiring Australia is participating in The Big Anxiety Festival, a new public engagement offering in Sydney that aims to challenge and re-imagine the state of mental health in the 21st century.

The Big Anxiety runs from 20 September to 11 November and includes talks, workshops, international art exhibitions, theatre and contemporary dance, public forums and interactive media events to generate awareness of the prevalence of anxiety and mental health issues in our society today.

The Big Anxiety Festival’s vision is to create opportunities for meaningful encounters that promote curiosity and empathy, decrease stigma, support neurodiversity and promote emotional well-being in our society.

According to the ABS National Survey of Mental Health and Wellbeing 2007, anxiety is the most common mental health condition in Australia, with 1 in 4 people – 1 in 3 women and 1 in 5 men – experiencing anxiety at some stage of their lives.

Against this backdrop, the Big Anxiety Festival aims to transform the ways people think about and deal with mental health issues. These will be explored through cinema, international art exhibitions, theatre and performance, contemporary dance, interactive media events and public forums for the entire family.

As part of the festival, Inspiring Australia will be running two Neural Knitworks events in Glebe and in Parramatta to bring community members together with neuroscientists and mental health researchers.

Executive and Artistic Director of the Festival, Professor Jill Bennett, from UNSW Art and Design and National Institute for Experimental Arts, says there is resounding evidence that arts can contribute to our mental wellbeing in sustainable ways.

“Far beyond simply promoting awareness, we want to transform the way people think, feel and connect,” she said.

The inaugural Big Anxiety Festival revolves around five major themes:

Awkward Conversations explores the way we communicate, especially when it comes to discussing difficult subjects like suicide and anxiety.

Lived Experiences examines the nitty gritty of life including trauma, loss, recovery and hope through the lens of creativity and vulnerability.

Neurodiverse City celebrates diversity of the mind by asking why differences prompts anxiety and stigmatisation.

Power, Politics and Institutions investigates the increasing struggle to maintain mental health in our fast-paced, hyper-connected society, and the hand that institutions play in perpetuating illness.

Mood Experiments uncovers the way our environment can drastically influence the way we experience the world.
Browse The Big Anxiety Festival program.