There are so many grim stories about the environment at the moment, here are just a few:
In Texas some towns are losing their water supplies, because the wells are being drained so the water can be used for fracking.
The real challenge is knowing how to address these issues without giving in to huge pessimism. I always think that creative projects can do a huge amount to get people involved about thinking about the issues in ways that are empowering rather than depressing.
Polka Theatre recently emailed me about their forthcoming production The Planet and Stuff. Polka Theatre produce world class shows for children and with this production they aim to get children engaged in the issues round climate change. As their own publicity says:
From global inequality to your own recycling. From what’s going on up in the atmosphere to where that sweet wrapper in your pocket came from and where it might end up, climate change takes centre stage.
Today’s Insights and Ideas event with Creative Scotland and Museums Galleries Scotland was as stimulating as ever. The topic was Equalities and addressed how organisations and practitioners can make their work as accessible as possible to a wide range of people.
The first speaker was Rosita Mckenzie, a blind photographer, who outlined how she had become interested in photography and some of the issues around access to visual arts for visually impaired people. Rosita pointed out that for partially sighted people, digital photography and on-screen photo manipulation technology can enhance their visual experience of the world. Rosita herself is totally blind and works with an assistant to create the photography that she feels represents her view of the world. Sge gas recently been involved in a collaborative project with an Australian blind photographer twinning her photos of the aftermath of a forest fire in the north of Scotland with his photos of wildfires in Australia. You can see some of Rosita’s photography on her website.
Next, Viviane Hulin talked about the Albert Drive project in Pollockshields, Glasgow. The project is led by Pollokshields based theatre company, Glas(s) Performance, in partnership with Tramway, and brings together artists, volunteers and community participants in creative and cultural work (including a community meal) around the theme of “Who is my Neighbour?” This inspiring project has had a demonstrable effect on increasing community links in the area.
Claire Docherty introduced the work of Sonic Bothy, a musical ensemble made up of professional musicians and people with learning difficulties. Over the past year they have followed a programme of learning about different musical forms, attending concerts and composing and performing.
We then broke for coffee and discussed the need for equalities work to be continuous and ongoing. Lack of funding is for many organisations and practitioners a real stumbling block to making this happen.
After coffee, Arabella Harvey & Kate Sloan of the Peter Potter Gallery in Haddington, East Lothian talked about their recent work to reach out into the wider community. Their recent project Lost Landscapes looked into the local landscapes and in Archaeology of the Ordinary they worked with an archaeologist and artists to put together an exhibition focussing on derelict buildings that were due to be demolished and the lives of Irish labourers who had used the buildings. The Gallery is working in partnership with Haddington Community Hub to continue developing its outreach.
Finally Phoebe Stewart of Scottish Borders Council explained how, through the Artists Rooms project, Old Gala House in Galashiels hosted an exhibition of photography by Robert Mapplethorpe that successfully enabled the gallery to reach new audiences, helped by both the artist’s controversial reputation and a major advertising campaign that literally took to the local buses.
As ever, bold text contains hyperlinks that take you to other webpages where you can find out more