We must create the world we want to see

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We’re often told: art is a luxury. That there are more important matters to deal with. More urgent demands on our time and money.

Yet think of the power of art. One song can completely change your mood and show you freedom, release, understanding, acceptance. One film can make you change the course of your life. One dance can make you fall in love. One piece of art can make you walk in someone else’s shoes.

We accept art into every area of our lives. We listen to music on the way to work. We watch a movie to relax. We curl up with a book to escape the world we’re in. We get ‘creative’ in the kitchen.

A world without art and the joy it creates is unimaginably cold and silent.

What about when we didn’t have TVs, books and the like? There was still art. Before there was language there was music. Before canvases and brushes, there were carvings and paintings. Before there were books, there were stories.

There’s an intrinsic human need to create, to look at our world in a different way, to imagine a different future. And it’s through the creative thinking that we find new cures, new solutions, new ways of living in harmony with each other and nature.

Art succeeds where manifestos and policy documents, laws and regulations fail. Because we let our guards down and the message goes deep within us.

Because of this artists have a massive responsibility. A responsibility to shape the world for the good of all. When people look at art as ‘not a real job’ or unimportant, they massively underestimate the power an artist wields.

A doctor can fix our body, a lawyer can get us out of jail, but art can open our hearts and heal our soul. Is that insignificant?

But artists cannot create our of thin air. They need patrons, supports, occasional customers, funders, audiences.

When I saw Chronixx play at Georgetown’s National Stadium the other week there was so much positivity, self-acceptance and love coming from the stage. But while the audience occasionally whooped, clapped and sang along, I didn’t feel that swell of energy and love.

As audiences, we are not there to be entertained, contrary to what many people think. We are part of the art. If you’ve ever performed on stage you’ll know the amazing feeling of receiving energy, love and good vibes from the audience. It feeds you and makes the performance even stronger.

And all art is like that, when you invest in it. When you listen to the lyrics. When you give a standing ovation without caring if no one else is. When you buy a CD. When you put a piece of art on your wall and look at it every day. When you invest money and time to give platforms to art. When you give advice and feedback. When you just show up. That’s when the magic really happens.

Tonight I saw a film at the Chilean Embassy, El Regalo (The Present). It was a sweet, funny film. A bit cliched, a little cheesy but it was funny and it was heartwarming. It told of the importance of friendship, of not worrying you won’t be ‘good enough’ and of the joy of just being alive.

I walked out feeling full of love and optimism.

Imagine if everyone felt like that after every book they read or song they heard or film they saw? Wouldn’t we all be going around feeling much happier and trying to be the best person we could be?

I’m not saying we should ignore the pain and suffering that is a reality in our world, but we should find a way to give hope too. In Mosa Telford’s play Children of Baby at the National Cultural Centre the other night, the legacy of trauma weighed heavily on the characters. But there were still glimpses of light. A new love. The release of a burdensome secret.

I’ve been very lucky to have musicians, writers, artists, designers, craftspeople, and other creatives around me in my life, and hold many dear as friends and family. I am constantly inspired and awed by them, and through this find ways to express my own creativity. An ongoing, challenging but amazingly rewarding process.

Think about how your life or work could be improved with art. Could a mural on the wall help to calm patients in your surgery or ward? Could role play help you get the point across when you’re trying to pass on an important health message? Could a colourful flowchart inspire your colleagues to meet deadlines? Art provides solutions everywhere.

And it’s also about making art that speaks to you and your passions. Imagine Caribbean Cinemas actually showing Caribbean-made films? Or seeing a bookshop on every street in central Georgetown selling books by Guyanese authors? Or going to the supermarket and seeing: ‘Made in Guyana’ on almost every label.

Let’s keep creating, keep appreciating, keep building, keep imagining. It’s what will get us through in the end, it’s what will actually change things

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