Often I write for Thanet Creative as us; today I write only as me. I write to set out my vision for the charity and our community.
Create good art
I believe that the highest expression of what it means to be human is the act of creation. We call that act art. It is part of who we are. We can no more deny the art within than water can choose not to be wet. Every one of us has a unique expression of art that only they can make.
As Neil Gaiman famously once said, “The one thing you have that nobody else has is you. Your voice, your mind, your story, your vision. So write and draw and build and play and dance and live as only you can. The moment that you feel that just possibly you are walking down the street naked…that’s the moment you may be starting to get it right.”
What I want, more than anything else, for Thanet Creative is to enable others – young and old alike – to develop the art within them. I believe that art can be both therapy and employment. I want to enable people to discover that for themselves.
Life is sometimes hard. Things go wrong, in life and in love and in business and in friendship and in health and in all other ways that life can go wrong. And when things get tough, this is what you should do. Make good art.
— Neil Gaiman
Include both the good and the strange
While some creatives – artists – are easy to embrace, others require an investment of time to even comprehend. We must be willing to make that investment. How many game-changing ideas have been lost because the community failed to create a safe space for the introvert, the socially awkward, and the strange among us? How many generations failed to appreciate era-defining art during the artist’s lifetime? We must do our best to history remembers us as a community that included such people.
Thanet Creative must become and remain a place of inclusivity; a home for art, if you will. The best and most creative souls often reside in the hearts of people society deems strange, weird, or unusual. Sometimes society deems us worthless or somehow “less”; in those times, society is wrong. We must remember that we were all outsiders once and welcome other outsiders into our community with open arms. Thanet Creative must be a sanctuary for all who wish to make art.
If we are ever to be a home for the Thanet’s writers, Thanet’s creatives, and all children of art, we must be inclusive. We must cast off any vestiges of judgement, prejudice, or hostility for what we do not understand. Only then can we truly be not just a community but an extended family – brothers and sisters in art.
No to bullies and bigots
Thanet Creative must now and always stand against bullies and bigotry. There will be no place in our ranks for those who seek to be unkind, divisive, deceptive, unpleasant, or cruel. We will call such people what they are – bullies and cowards. Bullies can never be part of the family of art. They would not even know how until after they truly and demonstrably repent of their cowardice.
For those struggling to fit in, for those being bullied, and all who feel invisible, we will say “there is nothing wrong with you,” and we will say, “you are welcome here.” But to the bullies, the bigots, and all that seek harm for others, we will say, “Begone.”
As a family of art, we cannot protect the world but we can protect our brothers and sisters closest to us. We will choose to look after the people to the left of us and the people to the right of us.
Set the art free.
We must recognise that the idea of art itself cannot be owned. No matter how original our ideas and ambitions may seem, there will always be another with the similar ideas and ambitions. That is a good thing. It is how we recognise our closest brothers and sisters of art.
When we see other people doing what we are doing, the answer must never be hostility. We should reach out to our brothers and sisters of art and support them because that is what we need too. The success of others in no way diminishes our own art; instead, their success may well open doors for our success. Even if it doesn’t the best way to succeed is to be around those that support and encourage success in others.
Jealousy and possessiveness must have no part in our creative process. Art is like the tides and even kings and queens cannot command the waves. So then, brothers and sisters of art, if we cannot control and own art, let us set it free.
A family of cooperating artists
What every artist needs is the space and opportunity to try and, possibly, fail without judgement. We will build a family of cooperation, trust and inclusion. I see Thanet Creative as a community where our brothers and sisters of art may feel safe.
When we feel safe within our community we will quite naturally be more willing, more able, more motivated to combine our skills to produce great art. That safety is what I want for our community. The opportunity to try and fail is something I want Thanet Creative to offer.
Opportunity sets the art free. Opportunity enables us to make good art. I want Thanet Creative to multiply opportunity.
Opportunity to develop our craft.
I want for Thanet Creative to be a community that enables its family to develop the art within. For me, this has often been about teaching others what I know about writing – telling great stories. I have seen all sorts of people come to our events unsure if they can write and yet with a story burning within them. Over time, I have seen those same people grow in their craft. I have seen them express their art in a way that seemed impossible to them at one time.
As a charity, I want to see us offer the same opportunity to as many people as possible. Sometimes that will mean offering training or finding the right teachers. Sometimes it may simply mean sharing our safe space. Always, though, it will make Thanet a better place one person at a time.
Opportunity to express new ideas.
For me, art is primarily the expression of new ideas. Ideas need a platform – a space – to be expressed. Our events, our website, or forums, and everything we set up has been to provide an opportunity for our brothers and sisters to express new ideas.
Art empowers us for change. Literacy, storytelling, and the sharing of ideas has the power to take the things in our wider community that are broken and change them. Art is power.
I want to see Thanet Creative continue to build these opportunities for self-expression. To create an environment where we can make good art. Not just in our various online forums but in our literature and poetry based events.
Opportunity to be exposed to new ideas and perspectives
By enabling our brothers and sisters of art to express new ideas, we do we gain another opportunity – the exposure of ourselves to stimulating new ideas. In many ways, art exists to expose the public consciousness to new ideas. It enriches our community.
That’s part of what I value in the events that Thanet Creative run – each person who comes brings something new. While there is no way to know exactly who or what ideas, each event is an adventure in sharing with our art brothers and art sisters.
New ideas are that which stretches us. Exposure to fresh thinking forces us to grow as people and as creators of art. It strengthens our sense of self. I want to see Thanet Creative to continue to facilitate the creation of opportunities to encounter and explore new ideas. New ideas come with a degree of risk attached. But if we continue to do what we have always done we will get what we have always gotten. Change needs risk.
Opportunity to participate
Nothing empowers us in quite the same way as when we can actively participate in our community. What I want to do with Thanet Creative is provide that opportunity to as many people as possible. That’s why we’ve said that we will support our members however we can in whatever creative events they want to run.
With each new member that we enable to participate, we enrich our ability to support our members. After all, this is a family of art. As families get bigger, there are more brothers and sisters to support you. The same, I think, is true for us.
Join our family of art
I am told that most people stop reading an article in the first paragraph. The longer the article, the lower the chances that a person will read to the end. As a person who has read to the end, you are already beating the odds – I hope that means my vision for Thanet Creative resonates with you.
I want to invite you to join our family of art. You can become a member of the charity, Thanet Creative, for a minimum donation of just £1 a year. I’d hope that those that have more might donate more but I am pleased that we have very lower barriers to joining.