Marking International Recovery Month, a new annual awareness event launches 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 promotes positive health messages and adds to the conversation that recovery is a viable lifestyle choice.
A month-long series of events includes the premiere of a one-woman talking heads style performance at HOME, featuring Coronation Street’s Sue Devaney. Pride Weekend sees Let’s Talk about Chemsex, a radio show themed art installation by artist Harold Offeh in the Gay Village and at Manchester Art Gallery.
With inclusivity at its core, all Recoverist Month events are either free or pay what you can. ‘Recoverist’ is a new portmanteau word blending recovery and activism to include those in recovery, their family, friends, and significant others. A new annual feature for the region’s cultural calendar, Recoverist Month is the brainchild of Manchester visual arts organisation Portraits of Recovery (PORe).
Recoverist Month aims to establish itself as a yearly flagship cultural event for recovery communities, as a parallel to Black History Month and Pride.
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.
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.”
RECOVERIST MONTH PROGRAMME
Didn’t You Used to Be Somebody? sees Sue Devaney (Coronation Street, Dinnerladies, Mamma Mia!) play a woman with an insatiable appetite for all things bright and beautiful and off the scale bad. A one-woman performance about suffering, survival, and sweet tooth surrender, it is a story about someone who was a slave to the crave. If you’ve ever felt disconnected from everything and everyone, or hung out at a ‘poor me, poor me, pour me another’ pity party, then plug into this tale of twisted compulsions and extremes and experience what happens when the addict self is left to run the shit show. One hour performance followed by Q&A. HOME, Saturday 9 September 2023 7.30-9pm Ticket price: Pay what you can via HOME website
Let’s Talk About Chemsex, a Recoverist Month trailblazer at Pride, sees artist Harold Offeh as a 90s radio host. Themed as a market stall, vintage radio show art installation, the artist will invite passersby to enter the radio show as a guest or respond to prompts and questions on the topic of sex on chems, intimacy, and consent. Visitors can participate with the host or record a message on a special answering machine. Activities allow visitors to contribute words and phrases to a collective song about queer intimacy or they can suggest a track for a collective playlist on consent. Commissioned by Portraits of Recovery and supported by Manchester Art Gallery. A Sunday event at Manchester Art Gallery will include a panel discussion on the broader issues of chemsex. PRIDE, Community Lane, Chorlton Street, Saturday 26 and Manchester Art Gallery, Sunday 27 August 2.30-4pm, FREE
Quieting, a music producer, visual artist, and DJ with a background in the UK’s punk, hardcore and DIY indie scenes, has been working with a group of people in recovery from addiction and some with experience of homelessness. Harnessing found sound, oral history recordings and electronic music production techniques she weaves experimental electronic and dance floor orientated sounds to explore time, reflection, ageing and embodiment through conceptualising the making of sound and deep listening as somatic practices. This project, called Recovery In Sound and commissioned by Brighter Sound, explores recovery, storytelling, and statistics as a starting point for creativity. The Stoller Hall, Sunday 17 September 2023, 7-9pm Tickets: Pay what you can via Stoller Hall website
There will be a special preview of artist Melanie Manchot’s first feature film, STEPHEN (2023), which blurs the lines between fact and fiction to examine addiction and recovery. Commissioned by Liverpool Biennial, the film was created with a mixed cast of professional actors and people from the recovery community. STEPHEN is based on the real-life story of Thomas Goudie, a clerk at the Bank of Liverpool, caught embezzling money to support his obsessive gambling. For this project, Manchot has collaborated with Stephen Giddings who plays the lead role, drawing on his own experiences of addiction. This special preview screening will be followed by a Q&A. STEPHEN will be released in cinemas on Friday 13 October. HOME, Monday 11 September 2023 6pm Tickets: pay what you can
A Moveable Feast? sees artist Jez Dolan working with Sober Gay Socials community members to explore alternative, queer sober social provision for LGBTQ+ people in recovery from substance use. This new commission blows the roof off convention and dreams big the possibilities for much-needed sober spaces within Manchester’s LGBTQ+ community. Come and take a seat at the table at this performative meal where queer Recoverists invite the public to share some food and time to explore issues and ideas around queer recovery. Part of Thursday Lates series. Whitworth Art Gallery, Thursday 21 September 2023, Gallery open 6-9pm, drop in performance 6.30-8.30pm FREE
Textile artist Lois Blackburn believes a little stitching goes a long way towards opening-up conscious and creative conversations on things we find hard to talk about. In the workshop series To the Sun, Moon and Stars, Lois will introduce the concept of cloaks as a form of protection and as an object rich with associations of power, influence, and importance. Stitching as a form of collective activism will generate conversations on all thing’s recovery and much, much more. Exploring recovery as the name of the game and a realistic lifestyle option by working with Oldham’s people and communities in recovery. The first workshop will take place during Recoverist Month. Commissioned by Oldham Council Substance Misuse Team through Oldham One Fund. Gallery Oldham, Saturday 30 September 2023, 12.30-3.30pm, FREE Booking Required
About Recoverist Month
Recoverist Month celebrates the aspirational hopes, desires, fears, and dreams of Greater Manchester people, and communities in recovery from addiction. Lived experience is centre stage, promoting positive health messaging and framing recovery as a viable lifestyle choice. It is initiative and led by Portraits of Recovery.Partners, venues and festivals for this first year’s event include:
– Manchester Art Gallery
– Manchester Pride 2023
– Brighter Sound
– Whitworth Art Gallery
– Oldham Council
– Stoller Hall
– Sober Gay Socials
– Gallery Oldham
Portraits of Recovery (PORe) is a pioneering visual arts charity based in Manchester, inspiring and supporting people affected by and in recovery from substance use. Director Mark Prest’s own lived experience led him to found PORe in 2011 to give a voice to an often-marginalised community.
The UK’s only contemporary visual arts organisation working within this field, PORe collaborates with leading contemporary artists, people in recovery, and communities in recovery to share the human face of the recovery experience – breaking down barriers and promoting inclusion.
PORe believes that addiction is a health, social and cultural issue.