‘The glory of God is a man fully alive’ said Saint Irenaeus. How right he was….
I am consistently saddened by the look of guilt on the faces of certain creative people I meet, young and old, experienced or novice. Somehow, we have been led to believe that to live a creative life, that of an artist, is a luxury or a drain on the system. If this is not said outright, it can be implied heavily by our friends, family and the media.
The removal of drama and music as a staple part of the secondary school curriculum exposes the governments take on the subject. They don’t even try to deny their rejection of the legitimacy of a creative career as they stick the STEM subjects (Science, Technology, English and Maths) down the neck of every poor student.
What I find fascinating and frustrating about this, is that we seem to swallow the idea hook line and sinker. The inference is that the arts (in any form or medium) are a ‘luxury’, not a serious or worthy pursuit let alone a valid career choice. This opinion bleeds slowly into our psyche and we take it as truth.
Only a few weeks ago, I bumped into a bunch of really nice drama graduates I have known for a while who have only been in the industry for about 6 months. When I asked how it is going for them, there was a collective sigh and an embarrassed look on each and every one of their faces as they acknowledged the difficulty they were in trying to build a career. They looked as if they have had to finally concede that their parents were right and it’s about time they got a ‘proper job’. I am the first to admit that this industry is a tricky one to stick with especially when motivation is low but, the rewards are not always fiscal. You see, the sense of personal satisfaction one feels when pursuing creativity is, well….priceless.
ICAT, the drama school I run, is full of full time working adults who have ignored their creative drive for 30 years or more and cannot suppress it anymore. Many of them are making more money during the day than I ever will but they are, well, empty.
This is an area that needs to be unpacked more and will be in the next post but, there is a key issue here that is rarely raised in print and that is: human beings are at their most human when they are creating. It is one of the things, if not the main thing that separates us from the animal kingdom. We are, if nothing else, creative. Our creativity transcends, it connects us, it changes us and it changes other people. It makes us feel alive, vital and energised (sounds like it could be quite healthy!). Creativity gives a sense of meaning like little else as well as a deep personal satisfaction that is often sought in other destructive ways (please see http://toyoutheartist.co.uk/purpose/make-or-break/ ) . It is constructive, grows our soul and makes us feel valid and empathetic towards others. Often it is just simply beautiful and it has been said that nothing is more important than beauty.
Why is this not celebrated? Encouraged at every level? promoted as the greatest of human endeavors? To find satisfaction in the very pursuit that defines us as a species?
It’s almost as if they want us to be reduced to a number…hmm, surely not?….to be continued.
To You, the artist.