Big Anxiety Research Centre

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Transforming mental health through cultural innovation

The Big Anxiety Research Centre [BARC] is a unique transdisciplinary enterprise, dedicated to transforming thinking and practice in mental health through creative collaboration and cultural innovation.

We research lived experience through a unique combination of trauma-informed, psychosocial research and creative practice, developing the rich communications and engagement practices we need to understand, connect with and support everyday experiences of mental health, trauma and suicidality.

Our mission is to attune to lived experience, to promote innovative creative experimentation and wide community engagement, and to collectively generate the tools, programs and creative media we need to support mental and emotional health throughout our communities.

BARC has evolved from the former National Institute for Experimental Arts [NIEA] and builds on the success of The Big Anxiety festivals in Sydney (2017 and 2019) and the growing research base in arts and health at UNSW Arts, Design & Architecture.

Participatory Research & Engagement

We are currently reviewing our program for 2022-26. Research areas include:

  • Virtual reality environments for mental health and trauma support
  • Digital Story-telling with embodied media
  • Dementia and ageing experience
  • Trauma-informed participatory design
  • Psychosocial design and qualitative evaluation
  • Suicidality and future thinking
  • Transgenerational trauma
  • Experience-led research methods
  • Music and emotion


We welcome conversations with potential partners, collaborators, affiliates and students.

Leadership Team

BARC is partnering with the Australia Council for the Arts to advance policy and practice in relation to arts and mental health

This website will be further developed in 2022 with a full list of research programs, projects and members.

Contact us

UNSW School of Art & Design 
Cnr Oxford St & Greens Rd 
Paddington NSW 2021 

T: (02) 9065 0455