An intrinsic value of art culture is that it exposes us to a perspective outside our own. An important tool when increasingly we see people fall into the fissures in the landscape of our society, despite the prevalence of our online community. In theory our community should feel closer than ever, but we all know someone who has felt misunderstood, marginalised or disconnected. The online persona we present is a facade of a happier self, a more social and empathetic self. A two dimensional self that is easy to hide behind.

This extrospective way of being teaches us to seek happiness in an unhealthy, superficial way with the world outside ourselves. Instead we should embrace who we are and seek to share it in a genuine way. We should re-examine our views and connections with the world, in relation to how other people do and not just by pursuing constant positive reassurance from outside sources. Art and culture facilitates this process, but it also does much more.

This ability to inspire understanding and cohesiveness comes from the creator’s ability to explore what is coming from within. Something that can take great bravery.

“You will never do anything in this world without courage. It is the greatest quality of mind next to honour.” Aristotle.

It takes a great many years, a lot of patience and courage before someone might be confident enough to put themselves out there. As a writer, I know this too well. But one thing that has become obvious to us is the unity the creative community already has. Their web is multi-faceted and ever reaching, and each person that makes up a strand of the web knows that to hold the entire thing together, they must reach out and support each other. “That’s what the art community is all about,” said Tammy Quire of Tammy’s Art Studio when I thanked her for her support.

It is people like Tammy who see the benefits that art culture has in the community, as do those involved in programs such as Art from the Margins and Melbourne’s Arts Project Australia. At the Creating Wellness Forum last year, Tony Anderton remarked that in the 8 years that Art from the Margins had been running, he’s seen disadvantaged and socially isolated people flourish, but that the benefits didn’t stop there. It went beyond the individual and was felt by the greater community. Sim Luttin, General Manager and curator for Arts Project Australia spoke about their Social Impact Evaluation Study they did  “to provide a richer narrative of the broader social value of Arts Project.” They found that although artists are the primary beneficiaries of the program, the artist’s families, carers, staff and volunteers also benefited by helping to facilitate the happiness and sense of worth in these people lives. It is clear to us that providing utilitarian communities like this, teach people who reach out that they matter. Each individual is valued, encouraged and supported and this in turn enables them to value themselves outside the community.

And we know community is best received in 3D. In other words, it is best received in person and not solely via an online platform. Therefore the irony of beginning this journey online is not lost on us. This is why we want to continue to grow from here. At Fringe we believe that in order to bridge the divides of diversity and understanding, the conversation needs to be broader and more inclusive in our area so we invite you to become part of this community – not just part of it, OWN IT!

Every month we’ll be featuring artists, announcing local exhibitions and events, speaking with writers and featuring books. And the aim? To keep that conversation going, to open our minds to others’ way of thinking and to enjoy ourselves while we do it.

So welcome! Let’s have a coffee, chat on the podcast, splash around some paint, listen to some tunes and hang out some time soon.

 

 

Ali & Grant

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Written by AlisonStrachan