Arts group focuses on mental health message

00:38, Jun 12 2014
Warwick King
LONG LINEUP: Tami Mansfield, right, is hoping to put on a play dealing with the mental health of teenagers and including local student actors.

Nelson Mental Health Services are considering covering the financial shortfall for a musical that looks at the impact of mental illness on families.

Off Broadway Performing Arts School director Tami Mansfield has been "desperately" seeking $4300 from the community to put on the Pulitzer Prize-winning Broadway musical, Next to Normal by Tom Kitt and Brian Yorkey, at the Suter Theatre from July 4-6.

She has already raised $700.

Nelson Mental Health Services (NMHS) watched a rehearsal last night to see whether the content was in line with NMHS policy.

NMHS general manager Robyn Byers said that the Mental Health Directorate was invited to a rehearsal of the play last night after a phone conversation with Mansfield.

Their attendance was to see if the play appropriately reflected mental health issues and in particular the focus on Youth Mental Health.


Funding had not been discussed in depth.

Mansfield said it would be a dream come true for her and the students to secure the funding.

NMHS support would be a great boost.

"I have all the confidence in the world that they will find it a remarkable piece of work - important for this culture in New Zealand to see."

If it decided not to fund the project, Mansfield said she would try other avenues.

"It is not just me that feels it is meant to be - the students are passionate and focused on the storytelling and the music.

"They care about these issues and want to stand up for the idea that sweeping big feelings under the rug is flat-out dangerous to families."

Meanwhile, Streat Kitchen and Pyramids Souvlaki plan a fundraiser on Saturday between 11am and 2pm to raise money. Students will perform in the pocket park. Tickets are on sale at Everyman Records.