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Time for Reflection, Time for Action

by James on December 7th, 2010

Its been a strange and worrying time of late in the circles that I work in, with the change in government and the ensuing cuts, many seemingly for idealogical reasons yet slipped in to the general ‘downscaling’ of public spending.

It has felt at times like every organisation that I work for, or area within which my experience lies, is either under threat of being cut to the point of being unable to survive, or has vanished altogether. As Creative Partnerships goes, plans for the Stonehenge Visitor Centre limp along, and the whole English Heritage Outreach Department is seemingly under threat.

I’m not writing this to present any specific answers, or to moan or feel sorry for myself, more to make visible in my own way the damage that this government is doing to every area that I value, from education to the arts, heritage to the environment. I know we need cuts, I’m just not convinced that the cuts that are being made are purely for economic reasons.

At times like these, as someone relatively isolated by being based in a rural area, its Twitter that seems to offer me a sense of support and community; sharing news, hopes and fears for the future of creative learning, access to public woodlands or the achievement of equality, respect and access for disabled people.

As work calms down for Christmas, I find myself taking time to set up a new blog (ta-da!) re-organise my studio and hatch plans in my sketchbook, and to forge ahead with preparations for projects starting up in the Spring.

What I don’t know is whats going to happen after April, when all these cuts will have started to really make themselves felt, and all the time I remain incredulous at the lack of a focus on the issues that surely need to be central to everything that we do – global warming and biodiversity loss. Climate change has seemingly gone out of the window in terms of both government priorities and media attention, with hardly a mention of Cancun on the news, and David Cameron jetting off to Afganistan for a more PR rich opportunity.

So what can I do about all this? As an artist, I am a communicator, I explore different ways of linking people together, of setting up dialogues between them and  ecosystems, materials and objects. I am a facilitator, a thinker, a maker. So I guess what I can do, is to do what I do, and to do it to the best of my ability.

This morning I met with teachers and pupils at a Bath school who are keen to develop a more creative curriculum and to build on their policy of outdoor access for everyone. Its these kinds of initiatives that give me some hope for the future.

In a society where the government doesn’t seem to value the role that I have created for myself, it feels even more important that I continue to do what I do, and to come together with others to enable such work to go on beyond April.

So, yes I am going to be active, I am going to be visible, and I support wholeheartedly those making their voices heard through peaceful protest. I’m not going to sit back and let everything I value be stripped from this country if I can help it. But I have my own way of taking action, and I know that I need time for reflection as well as action, to take in the beauty of this wintry landscape, to appreciate the people that I have met and worked with over the past year, and to regroup ready for a New Year of challenges, met with creativity and integrity.

Action and resistance are so important lest laws and cuts should be sneaked in through the back door or rushed in whilst our eyes are on other things, but we also need to take time to stop and reflect, to remind ourselves what is of value to us and why – to feed our sense and our imaginations, and come back stronger.

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