Where Are You Airdrie?

The creative arts are the measure and reflection of our civilization. They offer many children an opportunity to see life with a larger perspective…The moral values we treasure are reflected in the beauty and truth that is emotionally transmitted through the arts. The arts say something about us to future generations. – Ann P. Khan

Dear Airdrie,

Where are you?

You say you’re an arts town, a town that supports the arts, but where are you?  Where are you when professional artists fill the stage at Bert Church Theatre with their unique sound?  Where are you when Airdrie’s youth take the stage to show off their budding talent?  Where are you when local musicians bare their soul in haunting melodies and upbeat choruses?  Where are you when local artists proudly display their works of art?  Where are you when local playwrights present their original pieces?  Arts is an integral part of any community, but like anything, if a community doesn’t use it, or appreciate it, the community will lose it.  Arts have been in your community for years.

The arts are at AIRScares.  The arts are at Airdrie Zombie Cup.  The arts are at Dine for a Difference.  The arts are at Empty Bowls.  The arts are at Colour Me Red.  The Arts are at Relay for Life.  The arts are at Race for Kids.  The art are at the Mayor’s Run.  The arts were at the Alberta Summer Games. The arts shop local.  The arts eat local.  The arts support the community.  But where is the community for the arts?

Art is more than just what it can do for you.  Art is more than entertaining at an already established event.  Art is more than just donating a song, an album, a painting, some tickets.

This community needs to give back to the arts.  A community gives back with time.  Take the time to listen to the songs, look at the painting, the photograph, the carving.  Take the time to sit and be taken away by actors on the stage.  Take the time.

A community giving back is not always about what money can be spent.  Members of community arts groups love what they do, so it’s their money going in.  Did you know that?  If there’s a lack of sponsorship, events still happen; the cost is just dearer.  People who are in the arts believe in the arts, and will give to the arts their time, their resources, their everything.  It’s only when their everything doesn’t seem to be enough for a community who says they love the arts when people get discouraged and art becomes a trial.

Do you love the arts?  Or do you only like the arts when it can do something for you?

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Through the Fire

Let my burden be your burden, and yours be mine. – Ancient spell

I was talking to a good friend today who is walking to the precipice.  She is making one of those choices that, when the final answer is revealed, her life could very well be changed.  That is to go in the direction she wants to go.  I know what that’s like.  I’ve been there.  I was in a job I hated, but couldn’t go job searching because (as one of the reasons I hated it so), I didn’t get time off.  So I had to take a giant leap of faith and quit that job.  I was only able to do it because my roommate at the time so encouraged me to do so and assured me rent and other bills would soon be paid, and food would not be scarce.  Not everyone has an opportunity like that.  I quit my job, took some planned vacation, temped for a week or so, and had a permanent job that I enjoyed (and still enjoy) before the end of the month.  But I had support.  Most everyone I knew understood the job I quit was draining me, and the only thing that had kept me there for so long (almost 5 years) was the wonderful people and friends I had made along the way.

From that decision, other things opened up in my life.  I was able to take a course (my oft-mentioned, and nerdery-inducing Shakespeare course).  That was instrumental in my growth not only as an actor/person, but as a writer/director.  I became bolder, encouraged by my new bosses, and genuinely felt I could grow in my position and my skill, and that they would support it.

So did I go through fire?  Yes.  It was a hard decision, not knowing when I would find permanent work.  And when I did find this job, for the first half dozen months or more, I was only part time, so I had to supplement my income in other ways.

This was not the only event in my life that I “walked through fire”.  When previously encouraging roommate became not so encouraging, but harsh, and frightening, and everything else that caused me to lose sleep, get high blood pressure and everything else, I had to leave, but I didn’t know where I could go, etc.  But again, I had help.  My friends were so supportive, so encouraging, so empathetic, that when I felt the less safe at home, I at least had safety within my friends.

I’m not finished living, so I’m not finished these trial by fires.  They will keep popping up, and if I want to keep this pattern of growth, then I’ve got to walk through them.  But no one wants to walk through this fires alone.  And no one should.  There will be fires to walk through that are so personal, it’s hard for friends and family to understand, but they will still support you.

That is the benefit of living in community with people.  And I don’t mean “being active in your community” although I highly recommend that as well.  It means sharing your life with people.  Allowing other people to share their life with you.  I think some of us are in danger of losing this.  Social media brings us together in amazing, exciting ways, but it also lulls us into a false sense of togetherness sometimes.  We need to learn to straddle the line.

I know that when I next walk through the proverbial fire, my friends will be there walking beside, and behind me.  They know I will be there for them when it’s their turn.  It is a huge sense of relief, to know that in our hardest moments, the burden is made lighter by their efforts.  Growth does come from individual effort, but I believe some of the best growth comes when your friends and family are shouldering some of the burden.

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