Before I came to mailout when I thought of the arts I was guilty of the same thing many people are, my mind immediately leaped to theatre productions, stylish art galleries and of course the West End.
The government states how they continuously fund the arts, but is their perception distorted also? It amazed me to see the raw deal that the participatory arts sector receives, despite bringing people and communities together.
My basic understanding of the participatory arts was limited, not unlike most peoples. You ask a person in the street what they understand it to be, you expect to be greeted with blank expressions and little understanding.
Working at mailout has opened my eyes to a world of arts and people, striving to help themselves and others. Most of us will have taken part in some sort of participatory arts, but remain unaware about the sector as a whole.
My integration into this environment filled with people so passionate and devoted to including people from all backgrounds was humbling. It is refreshing to see a business and people who work towards a common goal that doesn’t involve money.
The mailout team showed me a working environment and a community that I wanted to be a part of. After a string of part-time jobs to fund my way through university, I finally found a place where I felt I belonged.
I had heard rumours of people who went to work for the love of the job, but had put this down to an urban legend. That was until I was immersed into the world of the participatory arts.
As a journalism student I have written my share of news stories, but writing for mailout was different. What used to be a constant drone of bad news stories was replaced by stories with a feel-good factor. From festivals, children’s arts events, to music classes for the elderly and theatre companies for those with disabilities; these are stories that capture the heart.
The efforts of mailout are paying off, everyday more and more people are introduced to the all remarkable changes that participatory arts make to peoples’ lives. I can only hope that when they do make their discovery it will be as remarkable and exciting as mine.
What does participatory arts mean to me now? It means good people, good friends and most importantly it is all about making your mark.
Mailout certainly made their mark me by opening my eyes to what the arts really mean, for that I am eternally grateful.