Monday, June 23, 2014

The Importance of Artistry

I'm a writer.

The other week I was was invited, along with some of my colleagues at the Writers Community of York Region writing group, to attend the Unionville Festival to showcase some of my work. I choose to bring my stories of Chronicles of a Girl and the Soul Bound series. We were asked there by the Markham Arts Council to help represent the creative community.
It came to my attention that the Markham Arts Council, also known as MAC, are being threatened with closure. MAC is in a tough position as the City of Markham is deliberating whether to continue, reduce or cancel funding all together.

While I support MAC, just as I would any other creative organization, I also understand that there are other things in our society that hold just as much importance. But that is it, "just as much". The arts should not be overshadowed. Their relevance to this world is great; and when I say this I am not just talking about the pretty and colourful pictures on the wall. It goes much deeper than that.

Whether it is literature, theatrical, painting, dance, composing, music, and so many others I cannot even think of right now, the arts are oh so very important. This is a medium that not only supports many jobs and hobbies, it instills family values and creates relative outings and gatherings. The arts promotes culture, contributes to education, adds to an economic need, and helps growth in not just the traditional way, but a therapeutic one as well. I could go into detail about each of these things and rhyme off some detailed fact checking, but instead I will simply tell you my personal story of how the arts has impacted my life.

For as long as I can recall I have always been a creative person. All throughout school my favourite subjects included Art and English Media. I enrolled into a Graphic Design program in college; and even though it took a little longer than I had anticipated, I worked hard and graduated with honors. I was so proud and happy only too have those feelings turn into disappointment and uncertainty. I did not possess the computer skills nor the accuracy required for the way the Graphic Design industry now flourishes.

After countless resumes, phone calls and even a few interviews, I hung my head and went to spend the summer at my grandfather's home with him and my mom. She convinced me to get up and volunteer, to do something to hopefully snap me out of this funk that I was in. It worked and the depression lifted. I volunteered myself to The Red Barn Theatre and my eyes, and heart, were opened to something new, fun and a bit magical. I helped with props and set decorating and I put so much hard work into my duties there that they hired me on to finish out the season.

I spent the next eight seasons with them, learning the tricks of the trade, meeting great people, acquiring other job leads and realizing my dreams of living within the arts was still alive. However, even in those darker times that life can throw at us, it was The Red Barn that helped me get through. The passing of my grandfather (from cancer) was a hard pill to swallow as my dad had already died years before, so my Opa was the male figure in my life. My mom's accident that led to a brain injury was an even bigger tragedy! My mom's brain injury inflicted her with aphasia, a speech disorder that hinders her ability to talk and understand. She has come a long way with the aid of rehabilitation workers, but has also been given help to communicate through the medium of music.

For personal reasons I left The Red Barn after that event; I had to now help out with what my mom had to live with, and that meant finding work with a more structured schedule that kept me closer to home. Anyone working in theatre I am sure understands what I mean when I say this. But theatre left me with many great memories, a great appreciation for the arts, (as if I didn't already have one) and a list of good friends. Friends that offered me support and kept me from falling off the cliff into the abyss of depression. (A special shout out goes to my good friends Kevin and Susann)

Something else The Red Barn left me with, or rekindled maybe, was the gift of writing. As I stated in my opening, I'm a writer. I have written a novel series as well as some short stories. I have a passion for writing; and like the theatre that offered me support and vision, writing has given me hope, inspiration and understanding. I have learned how to deal with the misfortunes in my life by the written word, some of which I have shared and some that I have kept to myself. 

The greatest thing writing has given me is knowledge, acceptance and inner peace for myself. When I was 6 years of age my brain was inflicted with a virus and I was hospitalized for months. I had slept with little signs of life for two weeks. I spent the remainder of my childhood and up to my mid twenties living in a cloud of confusion and depression. (a very familiar aspect of my life) A Creative Writing program I had enrolled in led me to do a short story on self awareness. I knew of my time in the hospital but little else. The writing begged of me to ask questions and do research. My thoughts and my story eventually gave me the courage to seek out and find a proper "medical" diagnosis. It is a relief to know that I wasn't going crazy!

Because of the Arts I am aware of my brain injury and able to be an advocate. Through my volunteering as a mentor and my blogging, I like to believe I have contributed to making a difference.
Because of the Arts (in part) my mom is able to communicate with family and friends.
Because of the Arts I have, in my own way, learned how to understand and cope with the Tribulations that have plagued my life.
Because of the Arts I feel like I am of value and can contribute to this world.

Join me in making a pledge to keep the Arts alive, because in many ways, they keep us alive. Let us start our acknowledgement together of this great gift, and all that are held within, by signing the petition for the Markham Arts Council by clicking here:

Let the Arts live! 

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