Why the Arts?

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It’s no small thing working in the arts. No small thing at all. When I’m sick and there’s no pay, or a full-on contract with an end in sight, with no time to pitch for a new contract.  No holidays. No manager. No rest. All my peers are tired and funding has been cut all over the place. Support is less and less, there’s nothing to lean on, nowhere to go to.

I phoned the GP yesterday, I’ve been ill for a month the receptionist said ‘Haven’t you seen the news lately? The doctor hasn’t got time to call you. They barely have time to do surgery. The situation is dire here.’ I go back to bed and think for a while about the projects I have set up. The fact that the council won’t allow the posters I had designed to be printed. Why? Because of the cuts, the freezes on budgets. Frustration is building up around me with the people I’m networking with. What’s the point when the service you are working to promote may well be gone next month? I do think ‘Why? Why the arts?’ it is hard not to.

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Windmill Hill City Farm – Sundial creation.

Sundial discs – designs

It’s been 40 years since volunteers first cleared the ground for Windmill Hill City Farm to begin. We are celebrating by creating a legacy – a sundial that will be a permanent fixture at the front of the farm. The sundial is operated by you and your shadow will tell the time!

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We have invited our local community to take part in creating the designs for our sundial discs. Over the last three months children and adults have been sharing their ideas by drawing them, writing them down or chatting about them. Here are some of the people who have taken part.

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The Truth Behind Freelancing

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Recently I wrote a super positive blog post on freelancing, which was quite brilliant. Today I want to share with you the dark side of walking this self-employment path, the side that no-one really wants to admit to. It’s been a long grey winter, cold and stacked full of illnesses. I would never usually utter this word but the….. Conservatives… have been making the decisions in this country for long enough for it to impact most people that I care about. Arts cuts that were made and continue being made, make me feel like I am lucky to be floating on the single plank I have hold of. The rest of the ship was sunk a while ago, some of the wood has been dried out and used for firewood. In my wisdom..cough…cough, I have at this point chosen to commit and commit hard to my arts career and further my specialist skills by taking an MA in Professional writing. My optimism paints a brand new world of midnight skies and stars to wish upon, while I dig up stories made from forgotten buried bones.

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Being Human – shining a light on disability and humanity.

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Every Friday, I put on an invisibility cloak and head off to a cafe in the centre of Bristol. Surrounding myself with the most honest, brave and open hearted people I have ever met. Whatever my week has been like, wherever my head has wandered off to since the previous Friday, I leave that building grounded and inspired. In the company of this group I get to see humanity unveiled. I see people stripped bare to their true nature. I view the general public being ignorant, kind, predatory, open-minded and most of all completely themselves, with their simple interactions. Cafe staff have an open purse offered to them. One of our group may visit as Elvis, or Dr.Who; spontaneous singing and smiling has been known to occur. Cafe dwellers get to witness laughter. Guaranteed. Regular laughter, eye contact and a shared sense of belonging.

I’m not an advocate for disability issues. Human issues are what interest me. You can’t possibly speak for a diverse group of people.”
Aimee Mullins

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Top Tips for Freelancers

I’m at that point again, when everything and nothing are equally possible. As a freelance artist and a mother, this time of year utterly floors me. I swing from knowing doors are opening for me and contracts are being signed, to crying, wailing and looking at job adverts – I know I need to keep the freelancer faith. In August I stay home with my children, flirting with the odd piece of work. My skills become buried under litres of wine, sunshine and young laughter. I’ve grown so comfortable with my own languishing this summer that I’ve forgotten what I do.

The air has changed, its damp and I can’t dry any clothes. Homes are cleared of children, they march back along the streets in line, with their uniforms on. Shop keepers grow fat on the profits of stationary, new shoes and the angst of parents.

I can’t quite reach myself. The silence I have craved for the past six weeks of the school holidays is deafening. Loneliness floats around the edges of my existence, I don’t know if it’s mine to claim or an innocent bystander.

I search through the dust on my furniture, knowing the past me, the working me, is there somewhere. If I move enough things and create the right amount of vacant space, I could re-construct myself. Under a paper-work pile I find fragments of my future. Shards of ideas get stuck, splintered in my feet, but I refuse to pull them out. I’d rather wait until they infect me into action.

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