At the end of 2020, Rebecca Jacobs, curatorial research fellow at the Center for the Humanities, The Graduate Center, CUNY, gathered a group of 45 people for Mindscapes, Wellcome’s international cultural program about mental health.

The program is predominately taking place in four cities - Bengaluru, Berlin, New York and Tokyo - culminating in a series of co-produced public outcomes, including: exhibitions in collaboration with artists-in-residence, events and public programming in the spring and summer of 2022. By supporting local conversations and interdisciplinary collaborations around a shared topic, Mindscapes aims to transform how we understand, address and talk about mental health by inspiring relevant and meaningful conversations that seek out a diversity of experience and place.

Jacobs worked with facilitator Nayantara Sen, Wellcome’s International Cultural Programmes (ICP) team, and The Center's Cara Jordan to develop plans for the convening.

Participants included cultural institutions, artists, designers, policy stakeholders, researchers, foundations and Wellcome’s ICP and Mental Health Priority area teams. The virtual meetings consisted of three, two-hour zoom meetings held on consecutive Friday mornings in December.

The sessions were intended to be informal, engaging and provide an opportunity for different people to meet, share and think about ways they could collaborate for Mindscapes in New York. The group heard from The Tenement Museum, Laundromat Project, Center for Urban Pedagogy, Guadalupe Maravilla and Brooklyn Museum with short presentations on their research and development for Mindscapes.

The key topics and themes that emerged specific to mental health and wellbeing in New York were:

Ahead of the convening, the organizers wrote a series of questions for the breakout sessions and asked participants to prioritize them and offer other suggestions. With the limited time available, the group collectively settled on five. Broadly:

Following on from this convening and the themes that emerged, Mindscapes NYC project partners are moving into the development and production phases of cultural programming, culminating in spring of 2022. The Center for the Humanities, CUNY is hosting a Working Group for local Mindscapes partners to workshop projects and collaborate over the next year.

You can view the full Mindscapes convening report here.