Creativity has healing power

I attended a meeting recently with a group of individuals who are going to create a community arts centre in Kentville, N.S., close to where I live.
I use the words “going to” because they are determined and don’t want to use tentative language such as “planning to” or “hoping to.” This is a dig-in-determined plan.
They need the support of municipal government, and though it seems like an obvious community-building and community-strengthening strategy, that support never can be counted on.
Government often thinks it should be run like a business, expecting monetary gain for their efforts or, at the very least, reduced capital costs and operating expenses. Yet the very things that provide for a healthy and vibrant community are not visible on a balance sheet, but their value far exceeds the investment.
In many communities, arts programs are at risk–the first to be severed when we discuss fiscal responsibility–and oftentimes it is libraries that come under fire.
A library is the soul of a community; its very heartbeat. A library’s doors are open to everyone, especially those who need a sense of belonging when there is nowhere else to belong.
It is human nature to want a home; to have a sense of community. Those who live outside of such, those marginalized, have greater day-to-day struggles.
A library is a safe place, and as I have said before, a library card represents free passage to the universe.
Creativity is a known tool for healing the human mind. Significant scientific evidence exists that proves art enhances brain function.
“Art can change a person’s outlook and the way they experience the world,” says Renee Phillips, director of Manhattan Arts International.
“Art reduces stress and depression, and [helps alleviate] the burden of chronic disease,” according to the U.S. National Institute of Health.
Connecting to some form of creativity is not always available to individuals, the cost oftentimes prohibitive. A library is the first connection we have to creativity through reading and the programs offered.
The arts centre I mentioned will provide an inclusive environment with the infrastructure available to share resources in order for the community to create music, to participate in creative writing, to do pottery and other visual arts (the possibilities unlimited).
The heritage building they hope to take ownership of is slated for demolition. Collaborating with this arts centre will be other organizations in the community that can use the space to provide greater opportunity to their patrons.
The community college, for example, would like to get involved to provide education opportunities for its students to participate in the process of restoring this building. The Flower Cart is a community support facility that provides training and job opportunities for those who have intellectual disabilities, and it is looking to create a bakery on site.
Youth at-risk, meanwhile, will benefit from the arts centre–having somewhere to belong where they can use their creativity as an outlet and for personal development.
It’s creative problem-solving at its best.
The point is that the arts, and all the branches of it, provide for a healthy community. It is our obligation and responsibility to care for those in our community, and certainly none more than those who struggle to care for themselves.
Providing arts and creative opportunities requires thinking outside the box–throwing the business template away and remembering those who most need our support.
wendistewart@live.ca

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