Since my last blog just over a month a go lots has happened. On the one hand I got news that Arts Council England will be funding a community festival I founded for the next two years. I've also had the tribulations of a year end and year start when it comes to the financial side of life meaning needing to achieve as much if not more, with a little less funding for other projects. It's 'swings and roundabouts' and, in life we will always win some and lose some.
You'll also notice that this blog is coming to you on a new version of Voice. And the Arts Award material you know and love has a new dedicated home on the site.
This new home also comes with a new year of focus, approach and a chance to grow new avenues. Change can be good. And change can always be influenced. In fact change is a never ending circle. Anyone who tells you 'the end is in sight' even when talking about a project isn't always really invested in that change. It's true that some projects only ever have a specific goal in mind, which could be time limited, but the learning and opportunities that can be grown from it can always span the time allocated to a given project. 30 years later, someone might come across an evaluation report and learn something 'new' about an approach or expected result.
This should give you confidence because you realise you're a part of something bigger - something that will always have unintended outcomes or recognition, a month, year, decade or even century down the line. We still speak today of well known warriors (sometimes simply for their creative planning and strategic thoughts, to make a tiny link!), poets, authors, directors, designers and all-round 'innovators' of a given time. Much can be learnt from the past and so, whilst we should strive for what is new, for making fresh connections and establishing unique approaches, we should never forget what has come before us. Sometimes it is the tried and tested methods that can bring us results. We shouldn't reinvent the wheel, but perhaps we look at how we can build or expand upon it - perhaps how we motorise it (car analogies can really relate to real life)!
This approach to doing something new and innovating could be the cornerstone of your Gold Arts Award. Unit 1 Part A challenges you to learn new skills and create a new product. But the best results I've seen are where achievers have creatively and uniquely put two or more art forms or approaches together. It's not just about starting from scratch.
This, for me, creates the important link to accessibility. That doesn't just mean how wheelchair friendly your piece might be. It means how supported you can be in creating something. Perhaps you can find somewhere cheap or free to grow your skills, not just a £30 an hour tutor. If you have the talent, have the confidence to make your own opportunities and seek out activities that you can afford and where support could be given in a way that works for you.
I've recently seen exceptional tutoring and work from a local amateur group. Where members pay £20 for a year, not for two or three weeks. Everyone is in a different position and needs a different type of opportunity. But they do exist and money doesn't have to be a barrier. The arts are more accessible than some would think and we must spread the word to build confidence in how a creative career and training offers so much.
I've made very little reference to the Gold Arts Award in a spiel that's all about getting Gold. But my intended message is this: you can and should strive to achieve your Gold Arts Award with a high degree of independence. You don't need to be constrained by anything if you have the belief you can find a way to approach something you want to and hope to achieve. Any opportunity can be made accessible with enough desire. Shoot for the stars - get celebrity backing or expensive equipment if you can get it, but you mustn't give up if you cannot. Let your hard work pay off. Make your hard work pay off. Find yourself a community venue or small army of volunteers. There's always a way to do it.
And if in doubt - get in touch with us on firstname.lastname@example.org - we'll soon have more ways for you to talk directly with other participants and achievers. Build and use your networks to get Gold.