Community Arts – The Importance of Creating Together

I was at the fantastic Mid Wales Shakespeare Centre over the weekend for the Family Shakespeare Festival, in my other guise as theatre administrator and actress (as well as leading an ancestral healing workshop). It was a fantastic and much-needed celebration of creativity and communication through performing arts as it came hot on the heels of a devastating announcement that mid Wales has potentially lost three of its arts centres – Wyeside in Builth Wells, CARAD in Rhayader and Theatr Powys in Llandrindod Wells – due to Arts Council funding cuts.

In times of crisis, and I think “now” qualifies as one, it is always the so-called extras and bonuses like the arts that are the first to suffer. And yet time and time again for me it has been the ability to escape into a different world through a film, to be transported to another place by a play, to be uplifted by a heart-centred piece of music, to hear an actor speak words that express what my heart has silently felt, that has kept me going when times get tough.

I spoke in a previous article, “Creativity requires craziness”, about the importance of creativity to all of us and I think that it can help us to find the way forward, to remind us of the beauty in and around us, to inspire us with the best that humanity is capable of. So for now places like the Mid Wales Shakespeare Centre which is mostly staffed by willing and enthusiastic volunteers and produces high quality community productions starring local people of all ages as well as inviting in more established professionals, will be flying the arts flag in this area.

Being there at the weekend had a timeless quality for those who were there, as if we had come home to a community where wisdom is shared, beliefs are expressed and listened to, and life with all its ups and downs is endorsed. We were sharing in the human experience and supporting each other in our response to it through song, dance, poetry, music, play and plays, discussion and art. “We are, in one another, family” as Shakespeare himself said.

That’s the kind of place I want to be, and maybe that was the message for me and everyone this weekend… that it’s time for all of us to play a part in creating the kind of world we want to live in on our own doorsteps. We must take back responsibility for the quality of and enjoyment in our lives.