I have been working in Theatre and the Arts since I was a teenager and my eclectic but extensive portfolio of theatre events, projects and youth arts ventures has led me here, to the wide open spaces, rolling chalk downlands and the ancient sweeping ridges of South Wiltshire.
Since leaving the challenging but enjoyabe task of embedding the Arts Award across the South East region for Artswork I had been looking for a less exhausting niche and in fact, felt that perhaps my time with the Arts had come to the end of the road. I'd written and delivered training packages for the arts, mentored young creatives, written more training for the business of the arts, directed youth theatre shows, run workshops, produced summer schools, lectured in theatre production and had a mildly entertaining time with my own acting career travelling in No. 1 touring shows. But I was so over all that, not least when a family bereavement took the joy away.
Thanks to a stint working with English Heritage at Stonehenge a year ago, I found myself part of a small team running an Outdoor Cinema event and as the sun set over the Visitors Centre on a balmy summer's eve I realised I wasn't done with it yet. I have one of my EH colleagues to thank for my new identity: after a long, busy day that saw upwards of ten thousand people from (it seemed) every corner of the world, I commented that given the day we'd had my colleague looked remarkably serene. She replied, "Oh! I'm like a swan, serene above the water, yet underneath the surface I am paddling furiously'. It stuck.
To paraphrase author Barney Norris, creativity runs like a river, threading its way through the heart of rural life in Salisbury’s five river valleys.. From village fetes to pop-up art galleries, to wonderful events like Shaftesbury Arts Centre's Marmafest (that's marmalade not marmite, in case you were wondering). I have been working with some rather incredible artists, musicians and Arts Trustees all of whom are dynamic, enthusiastic and dedicated to keeping the thread running throughout the small towns and villages of South Wiltshire. Everyone deserves access to quality arts experiences.
At a time when village churches, fete committees and voluntary groups are finding it hard to attract new people into their fold to keep them running and thriving, it seemed the right time to be working in partnership to keep supporting and nurturing the rural arts. There are songs yet to be sung, and tales yet to be told...