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StereoHype is a unique, inspiring and stimulating Festival that use the arts to celebrate the well-being of Black African and Caribbean communities and challenges the mental health stigma and discrimination that they experience.

Our founder Sandra Griffiths set up StereoHype in 2002 as part of her work for Mellow, a public health initiative supporting Black men in East London.

Sandra and a small group of professional artists worked with a group of black men with mental health issues to develop and showcase their creative talents. Early StereoHype events took place in small venues across East London, including the Whitechapel Gallery, Vortex Jazz Club and The Bullion Room Theatre at the Hackney Empire and featured music, spoken-word and debate with panels of mental health professionals, service users and carers.

As the popularity of the events grew, we were able to attract more funding and attract bigger audiences.

In 2012 we staged our first two-day StereoHype Festival at Stratford Circus, where we worked with counsellor Rotimi Akinsete to host Black Men on The Couch, featuring interviews with Chelsea’s first black footballer Paul Canonville and European middle-weight boxing champion, Herol Graham.

In 2014 we staged the StereoHype festival at the Midlands Arts Centre in Birmingham and our very first open-air, all-dayer at Windrush Square in Brixton.

In 2015 we delivered a programme of events including live music and spoken word performances across Birmingham as we led on Time to Changes Social Marketing campaign.

In March 2016 we delivered the second Birmingham StereoHype Festival at The REP with live performances from Birmingham based artists and a panel including Dr Peter Lewis, Medical Director of The Birmingham and Solihull Mental Health Foundation Trust, and Jacquie Dyer, The Vice-Chair of England’s Mental Health Task force.

In 2017 we worked with artists and performers to deliver StereoHype Satellite Events across Birmingham.

We have worked in partnership with Cafe Arts, Call Me Unique, Trademark Blud and Celebration of Life to create StereoHype Erdington. We also worked collaboratively with Rites of Passage Productions to screen the award- winning short film “From Noya” at the MAC and Birmingham City University. Rites of Passage also worked with us and Dr Martin Glynn to create “Revealed” our first Menologues production, which was performed to a sell-out audience at The MAC in February 2018.

Our 2019 Festival also took place at the MAC with over 400 people attending a two-day event with well- being workshops, film screenings, information stalls, an arts and crafts market, entertainment for kids and a pampering zone offering everything from a head massage to a manicure to a short back and sides.

The pandemic meant that we had to postpone StereoHype in 2020 but plans for our 20TH anniversary event next summer are already well underway.

Over the past eighteen years we have drawn audiences of over 1500 people to StereoHype events. We have had the opportunity to work with some great creative artists including singers Eska, Don E and Randolph Matthew, poets Beyonder, Zena Edwards, Malika Booker and David Neita, hip-hop choreographer Jonzi D fantastic bands like The Chicken Wing Allstars and Legends. Our panellists, speakers and presenters have included Henry Bonsu, Akala, Dr Kwame McKenzie, Stan Collymore, and BBC WM host Nikki Tapper.

Most importantly we have been able to work with more than 300 people with lived experience of mental health problems. They have created new work and performances and shared their experiences using StereoHype as a platform to promote mental well-being, raise awareness of issues and challenge mental health discrimination in African and Caribbean Communities.

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