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The Joy of the Arts

I’ve always enjoyed the theatre, galleries, exhibitions, performance spaces wherever they may be.  The joy and excitement that comes from watching live theatre; there’s nothing like it.

I’m not creative at all but I love watching actors, singers, dancers, painters show their work.  Mr L paints, writes, and has created a few short films, one of which was awarded a laurel wreath at a film festival. 

Our daughter is firmly immersed in the arts.  She has been dancing from a young age, has had a poem published, and last year she joined the local youth theatre and hasn’t looked back.  As well as performing, she has met her ‘tribe’ in this group of young people.  She is accepted for who she is, as are all the young people who attend classes there.

Watching them perform an original comedy was joyous – I belly laughed from start to finish.  The positivity and energy radiating from the stage was incredible – they were having the time of their lives. 

I’ve also seen the healing power of art.  Whether it’s veterans dealing with PTSD, or our daughter at The Maidstone Art Centre.  After leaving school to be home educated, the art centre was a safe place to decompress.  Two years on, and it’s still a fixture in our week.

It can help to boost confidence and make us feel more engaged and resilient. Besides these benefits, art engagement also alleviates anxiety, depression, and stress.  (Mental Health Foundation)

The arts can regenerate a community.  I come from a working-class area of East Belfast.  We had a great library, but that was it.  Then a group of artists moved into a vacant space in an old mill, and it began.  Over the years creatives and food and drink businesses moved in creating a vibrant original place to do business and serve the local community.  There’s even a fantastic pub and pizza place in a building that used to be a shop selling suits for men.  They host a book club and local creatives fair. It’s a place for everyone.

Building creative arts into education and training provides an alternative approach, addressing areas of personal development such as self-expression, confidence, and authenticity.  (Festival of Mental Health)


However, schools consistently downgrade the arts.  Whether it’s funding or pressure from government to steer children towards the sciences, the creative arts appear to be the poor relation.  Why?

Why do local authorities put the arts at the bottom of the pile when it comes to funding?  There is usually a myriad of excuses for local councils not to support the arts, but how can they be blind to the benefits for everyone, young and old?  Why can’t they see that the arts can regenerate an area, bring people in, and provide educational opportunities for all ages.

Let’s try to support local creatives, attend our museums, galleries, theatres.  There’s a host of free stuff out there and if we don’t support it, we will lose it.

“Art is central to a civil society.  Kids who create, don’t destroy.”  Terry Semel











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