People at our AGM were moved and inspired by Yulanda Faris’ keynote speech on the Importance of Community Arts.
it is essential, to a community, to support
the artist among us and the artist within us
to build a civil and well-functioning society.
My father was a Story-Teller. He used to regale us, his children, with his stories, usually at supper time,often to our amusement for some of these stories were many times repeated. It was only later I realized that my Father, who was functionally illiterate, came from a tradition of “oral learning” and that he learned the history and folklore of his people, in his small village in Lebanon, from nomadic story-tellers and wandering minstrels. The town square was their theatre and meeting place for the community.
Modern day artists, our story-tellers and minstrels, perform in theatres, halls and community centres. Their work is important to a community not only in telling our stories but they are also the agents for change. They help to develop our imagination, our communication skills, our empathy and our understanding of ourselves as human beings. To cite but one example, Kevin Loring’s award winning play, “Where the Blood MIxes”, taught me more about the soul
destroying experience of the Residential School system than any report I have ever read. The play also spoke of hope and redemption and the exorcising of the evils that beset us.
“The Arts” is the great equalizer; no matter your station in life, everyone needs some aspect of the arts to grow and develop as a contributing member of society. “The Arts” is not some commodity locked away in a closet somewhere to be opened and utilized when needed. Art and Culture are integral to who we are as human beings. Money is not the great definer of who we are as a people. We need to learn what is essential to “being” and the sick in our society
are those who are void of empathy, of self-esteem and the inability to envision how “better” can be attained. My father, the story-teller, taught me the importance of a curious mind; the desire to always be learning, to delve into the many ways we can learn and to find the tools with which to learn. Arts and art practices offer this to us and it is essential, to a community, to support the artist among us and the artist within us to build a civil and well-functioning society.
I am not suggesting that the Arts is the panacea of all ills……. we need trade and commerce, we need medical care education etc……. but the Arts help us to define ourselves. Without imagination, we cannot dream, without the dream, there is no hope and, as the Good Book tells us, while there is hope, there is life.