Recoverist Month, Sept 2023

HOME, Manchester Art Gallery, The Stoller Hall, Gallery Oldham, Whitworth Art Gallery, Manchester's Gay Village

Past Project

September sees the launch of Greater Manchester’s first annual Recoverist Month

Changing the conversation by honouring and celebrating people's lives spent in addiction and recovery

A month long series of new commissions, performances, and creative events including the premiere of Sue Devaney‘s (Coronation Street’s Debbie Webster) talking heads style performance

SIX artists, FIVE new commissions across FIVE venues and ONE festival

Marking International Recovery Month, Portraits of Recovery (PORe) launches a new annual awareness event this September in Manchester.

Recoverist Month puts Greater Manchester’s thriving recovery communities centre stage by increasing visibility and directly supporting the voice of lived experience. Celebrating recovery from substance use through the arts and culture, the event promotes positive health messages and adds to the conversation that recovery is a viable lifestyle choice.

With inclusivity at is core, all Recoverist Month events are either free or Pay As You Feel.

We kick off a month-long series of events during Manchester Pride weekend with Let's Talk about Chemsex, a 90s style radio show themed art installation by artist Harold Offeh take up residence in the Festival’s Community Lane.

Offeh also hosts a panel discussion at Manchester Art Gallery, bringing issues of Chems, sex, intimacy and consent into the open with speakers Cheddar Gorgeous, Duncan Craig OBE of Survivors Manchester, and Joshua Wharton of George House Trust.

Currently showing and commissioned by the Liverpool Biennial, a special preview of artist Melanie Manchot’s inventive and cinematic film about mental health and recovery, STEPHEN, will be screened at HOME Manchester.  

STEPHEN, Production Stills, (c) Melanie Manchot courtesy of Parafin, London
STEPHEN, Production Stills, (c) Melanie Manchot courtesy of Parafin, London

In an immersive and experimental, sound art performance at The Stoller Hall, Quieting will harness oral histories of addiction and homelessness to stage a ritual in collective deep listening as a somatic practice. 

Whilst at the Whitworth Gallery, artist Jez Dolan presents A Moveable Feast, a performance-based exploration on the need for alternative, Queer sober social provision for LGBTQ+ people in recovery. The artistic outcome of a creative collaboration with Sober Gay Socials and some of its members. 

Finally, the month-long programme rounds off with artist Lois Blackburn’s project launch of To the Sun, Moon and Stars. A series of creative workshops at Gallery Oldham introducing stitch as a form of collective activism to generate new conversations on recovery for the people of Oldham.

‘Recoverist’ is a new portmanteau word blending recovery and activism and it includes those in recovery, their family, friends and significant others.

An innovative and timely new feature for Greater Manchester's cultural calendar, Recoverist Month aims to establish itself as a yearly flagship event for recovery communities, as a parallel to Black History Month or Pride.

In the US, International Recovery Month has been celebrated every September since the 1980s, but this awareness initiative has not yet gained momentum in the UK on the same scale. Recoverist Month will change this.

Mark Prest, director, PORe, said: “PORe’s work is about increasing access and opportunity to the transformational power of the arts and culture.  

“We only need to look at how the Queer, disabled, POC and women’s art movements have taken back control through their cultural production. We advocate, this approach for the recovery community.  

“Recovery is a collective process, and why partnership working is critical to delivering our ambitions.  

“I would like to take this opportunity to thank all our partners including our commissioned artists as Recoverist would not be possible without them.  Establishing an annual Recoverist Month has been a long term ambition, now realised through our national portfolio funding from Arts Council England and support from the Greater Manchester Culture Fund, for which I wholeheartedly thank them and feel truly grateful.” 

Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham, said: “It is great to see the launch of Recoverist Month in Greater Manchester and I am a strong believer that by using the arts we can successfully send a strong message to our communities that recovery is an achievable goal, as well as combat the stigma attached to addiction to drugs and alcohol. 

“In Greater Manchester, we help to support and coordinate local authority commissioners to ensure high quality drug and alcohol treatment provision. Support is available to all our residents at all stages of their recovery journey. Projects such as Recoverist Month can play a massive part in helping people to maintain their recovery, as well as support others who are still on a journey towards recovery.” 

Jen Cleary, director north, Arts Council England, said: “Recoverist Month is a great opportunity to highlight the possibilities of recovery and the many ways in which arts and culture can change lives.  

“It’s a welcome addition to the Greater Manchester cultural calendar and one which we’re proud to be supporting as part of our new National Portfolio. The work speaks strongly to our Let’s Create strategy and our aims that all communities can participate in culture, and that the creativity of each of us is valued, celebrated, and given opportunities to flourish.”

Recoverist = recovery + activist