Let’s Talk About It!

Our Story


SICK! Festival faces up to the complexities of mental and physical health. We present an outstanding international arts programme, weaving in perspectives from researchers, clinical practitioners, public health professionals, charities and those with lived experience of the issues we address. Themes are explored through many art forms – dance, theatre, film, spoken word – and through discussion and debate. We present and commission powerful, innovative and engaging work by artists from across Manchester, the UK and the world.  We take the conversation into the heart of the communities where the subjects matter most as well as major cultural venues.

SICK! Festival has grown and evolved since 2013, emerging from reflections on our own lives and the lives of people around us to embrace issues of wider significance for communities and deep importance for individuals. We are constantly guided by those communities and individuals, who ground our work in real-life experience, huge knowledge and immense understanding of the sensitivities of emotive issues. All too often these subjects are kept away from public view and debate. We exist to change that.


Our Team 

Helen Medland

CEO/Artistic Director

Tim Harrison

Creative Director

Celia Makin-Bell

Executive Director

Zoe Martinez

Operations Manager

Steve Vickers

Creative Producer


Duncan Craig

Paul Ferry

Prof. Sandeep Ranote

Seren Hughes

Joe Strickland


The Kickstart Scheme is a 6 month paid job with a local employer, funded by the Government. It provides a fully funded job opportunity for young people to gain experience of working in some of Britain’s most exciting companies.

We’re looking for someone with great communication skills and ideas, someone who loves learning and has an interest in getting to know more about marketing.

We need someone to help us with practical everyday marketing and communications tasks, like contributing to our social media content, putting together images and words for our website and publications.

You’ll also be enrolled in The Factory Academy’s Kickstart Creative scheme – a wraparound scheme delivered by Manchester International Festival designed to complement the Kickstart scheme. This scheme provides wraparound experiential learning and boosts student’s employability and self-confidence during and beyond Kickstart employment.


In July 2021, SICK! Festival has a Micro-commissioning fund of £6000 for 1-3 projects by  early career artists in Greater Manchester and the North West.

We are seeking commissions that explore the most challenging and important issues that face communities today. We are seeking projects that look to the future with hope, that are rooted in trust and shared experience, that shine a light on our rights and our responsibilities, and that show us that change is possible.

We want to work with artists from all sections of society and we welcome proposals from people who are currently under represented in the arts including people who face discrimination as a result of racism, those who self-identify as LGBTQIA+, those from lower socio-economic backgrounds and those who self-identify as disabled.