Creativity Matters

We are always delighted to hear, read and see how other people’s express and explain the value of arts to individuals and communities.  This weekend, and it’s only Sunday morning,  there have been three views that are worth sharing.   Two because they come from an educated artist’s (both involved in music) viewpoint who articulate, using research,experience and passion, what  service the arts provide  to community, good mental health, creative thinking which can be applied across the board,  education, old age, suicide prevention, etc etc.   The third is about a young woman who is about to lose a beloved art class because of funding cuts by the Australian Federal Government.

Together, these three pieces restate what is already known about the arts … and I am left wondering why it is that decision makers are so resistant to supporting programs that are known to be so effective to individuals and communities,  and so cost effective as well.


FROM THE MUSIC SHOW : ABC Radio National, 21 June 2014.

Eric Booth

Eric Booth has successfully established theTeaching Artist approach to music education around the world including in august institutions like The Julliard School, The Lincoln Centre Institute and The Kennedy Centre. He is the co-founder of the Orchestra Engagement Lab (including its Teaching Artist Academy), a national co-commissioning project which weaves the development of new orchestral works with community engagement design and practice. He champions the Venezuelan El Sistema music program and is in Australia for the 2nd International Teaching Artists Conference in Brisbane in July.  Click on this link for connection with the ABC site so you can listen to the discussion.


FROM OCKHAMS RAZOR : ABC Radio National, 22 June

The neuroscience of singing

Tania de Jong AM is an Australian soprano and international speaker on leadership, creativity and innovation. She founded Creativity Australia and Creative Universe and she works with disadvantaged communities through the ‘With One Voice’ choir social inclusion programs. Today she talks about the benefits of singing. Click on this link for connection with the ABC site so you can listen to the discussion.


THE SUNDAY AGE    22 June, 2014.

Lisa Bolton with her parents Jane and Daryl.Lisa Bolton with her parents Jane and Daryl. Photo: Simon Schluter

Jane and Daryl Bolton don’t know how to break the bad news. They’re dreading the conversation they’re about to have with their 34-year-old daughter, Lisa, who has an intellectual disability. The one activity she looks forward to every fortnight, a community art class, is being cancelled next week.

“It’ll have a huge impact on her emotionally,” Ms Bolton says. “It may seem insignificant to some people, but it’s not to her. It’s going to be very difficult to explain to her why this program can’t continue.”

Lisa’s art class is one of dozens of activities for vulnerable Australians being axed at the end of the month, after Reclink Australia’s $560,000 federal funding was scrapped in the budget. It’s a major blow for the organisation, which best known for hosting the annual Community Cup, held today in Elsternwick Park, and is also behind the Choir of Hard Knocks. The loss represents 25 per cent of its annual budget and will force the closure of 45 sport and art programs delivered to disadvantaged people nationwide, including eight in Victoria.

The Boltons fear their daughter will be so devastated by the news she may withdraw, losing interest in volunteer work at her local op-shop and library on the Mornington Peninsula. “Lisa’s been passionate about art ever since she was little,” Ms Bolton says. “She gains more than just the expression of art; the class allows her to confidently travel on the bus alone and it has extended her social network.”

Reclink chief executive John Ballis says the impact will be felt by the organisation’s most vulnerable clients, people suffering from homelessness, mental health problems, disability, social isolation, drug addiction and abuse. Hundreds will be affected in Victoria’s outer metropolitan regions, more than 10,000 people nationwide, he says.

Peter Cullen, who founded the organisation in St Kilda 25 years ago, says the benefit of funding the national program had not been considered. “There’s a lot in welfare that stops people from drowning, but there’s not a lot that helps people to swim,” he says. “We make an impact not only on a personal level but in terms of suicide, crime prevention, overdoses, hospital admissions, it goes on and on. Governments need to [understand] that some programs actually save them money.”

A five-year study by La Trobe University on the impact of Reclink programs found participants became more sociable, had improved confidence and were more easily linked in with other support agencies.

Lead author Matthew Nicholson questioned the decision to slash funding to a program with a proven record of helping the “most disenfranchised, most disadvantaged, and most forgotten Australians”. “Reclink participation is definitely a catalyst for what can be described as a better life for these people, for getting back on track,” Dr Nicholson said.

Ms Bolton knows she can’t put off talking to Lisa for much longer, but for now she’ll keep quiet, hoping for a miracle. “I’m ever hopeful,” she says. “We’ve battled for Lisa from the get go and we’ll keep battling for her.”

Treasurer Joe Hockey’s office did not respond to questions.

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