Testimonial #41: Joseph Crawford, Creative Producer/Artist

“The reality of the Arts as an industry is that you will be made to work hard, adapt to foreign situations, work for free (for a bit), and take your fair share of rejections… but it’s worth every minute when you see YOUR idea turn into a reality. “

How has your life been indelibly touched by a teacher who utilized the arts for whatever reason and acknowledge how they were instrumental in breaking the mold to allow you to become who you are today?

Mark, my English Literature teacher at Birkenhead Sixth Form College, taught me more than just an appreciation of history’s greatest written works – he also taught me that creativity is a choice, and it needs tending to if it is to blossom. Mark was a spell-binding individual; pony-tailed, long-bearded, and walked with the aid of his tree-branch staff (taken from the tree Wordsworth liked to sit under) – the definition of a romanticist. He would finish lessons 30 minutes before their time, and invite us to spend the rest of the time writing poetry. It was my own choice, and pleasure, to stay behind constructing sonnets while most of the classroom left. Through Mark’s lessons, I realized that I was not going to follow the same path as the majority. Nowadays I am surrounded by inspirational figures; Charlotte Corrie/Christina Grogan – Open Culture, Chris/Kaya Carney – Threshold, Alex McCorkindale, Director of Flux Liverpool (to name just a few) – Liverpool’s cultural icons who invest their time and energy into making the Arts a sustainable industry, and to inspire the next generation of Creatives. If I have a creative idea, I know where to begin in order to set the wheels in motion – never forgetting the realities, the costs, and the rewards of this harmonious community. Without mentors, young people in the arts will simply make the same mistakes as their predecessors, and in an increasingly difficult economic environment, we need all the help we can get. Cultural education starts in the Arts, and leads to bigger things than you can imagine.

How are the arts re-igniting your community and sparking innovation and creativity in your local schools?

 Since recognizing that the Arts is a nurturing community, I have encountered a body of wonderful people, discovered mind-blowing talent, and found true purpose. At the start of my third year of university after wading miserably through another “student-night” in a cesspool of night-clubs, I cried out ‘There has to be more than this!’ Two terms later I dusted off my guitar and began practicing again, eventually performing in the SU bar. By the end the following year, Lancaster had shown me a whole family of musicians, artists, actors, (and bar-staff) who genuinely cared about each other, and who helped me forge the tools for a career in the arts. Thanks to their tuition and support, I now perform across Merseyside – expressing my irrepressible creativity, and even getting paid for it. Now in Liverpool, I’ve found the same formula applies – a new family of supportive people who simply love to create. And it’s nowhere near as breezy, pie-in-the-sky as some people told me – it’s a commercially viable industry: the difference is that you are never left to fend for yourself! I have since learned the value of communications, marketing & PR, recognizing what a real team looks like, relationship-building, and so many more transferable skills! Like any industry though, there still exist odd barriers. Young people in the arts tend to be viewed as expendable commodities – an ornament used only for image, and rubber stamping ‘young’ ideas. Again, it all depends on who you’re working with; but the reality of the Arts as an industry is that you will be made to work hard, adapt to foreign situations, work for free (for a bit), and take your fair share of rejections… but it’s worth every minute when you see YOUR idea turn into a reality. Keep the Arts in schools – the future of the next generation of Creatives depends on it!

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