Liverpool Hope University came alive with creativity and inspiration on the 26th of June as artists and practitioners from across England gathered at the Addiction Recovery Arts Network Conference 2023. Hosted at the picturesque Creative Campus, the event was a testament to the power of art in healing and recovery.

From thought-provoking performances by renowned groups like Vita Nova and Fallen Angels Dance Theatre to fascinating presentations by experts like Alice Bell and Dr David Patton, the conference delved into the diverse and transformative world of recovery arts. As attendees shared stories of personal growth and powerful encounters, the echoes of artistic expression and support for one another reverberated throughout the day.

Dr Zoe Zontou is Associate Professor in Drama and Theatre Studies and Research Lead for the School of Creative and Performing Arts at Liverpool Hope University. She co-curated the Addiction-Recovery Arts Futures conference.

Vita Nova performed ‘The Nest’ (see above) and founder Dr Sharon Muiruri Coyne spoke about the company and how she heard about the conference through Performing Recovery magazine and social media. One attendee commented afterwards, ‘‘The Nest’ was a performance that really inspired me.’

Many thanks to photographer zack mennell for taking pictures throughout the day. zack presented a video and installation of their (para)site project over lunch.

About the conference, they said ‘it was a truly affirming experience and a revealing moment to see all that is happening across mediums in recovery arts. I was struck by the wealth of information, research, fellowship, and the calibre of all of the work. Stepping into that context professionally is very new to me and having done so in such a lively, supportive, and engaging event has given me so much to move forward with. I’m looking forward to getting further involved and engaged with the network and Performing Recovery… I can feel another article coming…’

Above, multi-disciplinary artist Christina Schultz invited us to hear about The Drug Tarot and below, Wendy Hubbard presented a short provocation with performative elements, ‘A Cautionary Tale/Addicted to You: Co-dependency, Performance and Recovery’.

Another attendee commented, ‘it was a great day and I felt very comfortable – which is incredibly rare for me in those networky type spaces’

Performing Recovery took centre stage with editor Alex Mazonowicz (above) and magazine founder Dr Cathy Sloan (below) was co-curator of the conference with Zoe. Cathy is also Course Leader BA Applied Theatre and BA Actor Musicianship and Lecturer in Applied and Socially Conscious Theatre at London College of Music, University of West London. According to Alex, “It’s so exciting seeing such as range of ideas, from performance to academia, all centred around addiction recovery. Today I’ve seen dance, theatre and tarot readings…it’s amazing!”

Below left is Alice Bell whose paper was ‘Student-Client Dynamics: Arts Innovation and Recovery Practices in Action’

Above right is Dr David Patton, a criminologist who presented a paper entitled ‘Creative methodological Innovations in Drug Addiction Recovery’. David will be writing more about his work in the next edition of Performing Recovery.

After seeing an extract from Melanie Manchot’s film STEPHEN, commentary, analysis and discussion was led by Nicole Vitellone (above left) and Lena Theodoropoulou (above right).

Fallen Angels Dance Theatre was founded in 2011 by professional dancers Paul Bayes Kitcher (above) and Claire Morris (below left).

An attendee emailed to say, ‘I came with Geese theatre company, I’m a performer with them at Staging Recovery. It was amazing to be invited, I had such a great experience. I especially enjoyed Fallen Angels, it was emotive and made me think of other possibilities in recovery.

Here’s a video of highlights from the amazing day that took place: Addiction-Recovery Arts Futures conference at Liverpool Hope University, June 16th, 2023.


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