The Arts are key and a fundamental component to living a happy, balanced life and living rurally should not prevent one from having access to them

Written by – Joni Prescott, Co-Founder of Argyll Arts Collective in Lochgoilhead, in Jun 2019

The motivation behind the Argyll Arts Collective is the belief that the Arts are key, and a fundamental component to living a happy, balanced life and living rurally should not prevent one from having access to them.

We promote arts events in the area of Cowal in Argyll and the community of Lochgoilhead, where we live, has around 500 full time residents and about the same again in the villages of Strachur and Cairndow. The nearest theatre for people to visit in the area is Dunoon which is almost a 2 hour round trip.

We hope to provide an easy alternative for people to access the Arts and enjoy a cultural experience.

As fairly new promoters’ we have hosted about 20 shows to date.  On the whole, the Arts Collective has been an interesting and fun experience, although we have had some unexpected challenges along the way that have only provided us with the necessary next steps in developing our role as a promoter’s organisation.

Challenges of being a Rural Promoter

At times it has felt hard to fit in and ‘find our place’ in a community with well-established friendship circles, clubs and ‘groupings’.  This has been a specific challenge to promoting rurally; navigating the who’s who of rural life has thrown up a lot of difficult obstacles which have called for creative solutions to keep us going and move us forward in the right direction. But now after three years we are developing an audience that seems to appreciate and enjoy the events we put on.

Another challenging aspect of promoting rurally is the weird sense of exposure you feel when putting on an event. I hadn’t really taken into account how vulnerable one might feel towards the audience’s reactions and opinions. Unlike being in a town or city, where one has a certain amount of anonymity, living and working rurally the opposite is in fact true;

one’s actions never go unnoticed.

It tends to matter what people think, so what you choose to promote can have a knock-on effect on a personal level as well, especially when trying to establish where one might ‘fit in’ – if even at all!

Being part of BRAW

Being part of BRAW has helped us to

  • connect with community members that we may not have done so otherwise
  • reach a wider audience
  • open up the conversation about who we are and what we’re about.

Heather Marshall from Creative Electric (working in association with Birds of Paradise Theatre) is our artist in residence for BRAW.  Heather has taken a very hand on approach in engaging with our community by asking the community for their accounts of Lochgoilhead, with the intention that it will inform her writing and be incorporated into the performance. As part of this process we have visited various community groups and set up ‘Pop Up’ style tea and chat sessions, this has attracted all sorts of people who have been keen to share and engage with the project.

BRAW is drawing to an end, the final piece has been created and we all look forward to seeing it!

Will it live up to the community of Lochgoilhead’s expectations? Will it be understood? Accepted? Does that matter? Who is it speaking for?

Is it possible not to compromise the artistic intent while working closely with a community?

All will be revealed!

 

 

‘______Is Where The Heart Is’ will be performing in Lochgoilhead on Saturday 20th July.

 

Photo taken of Joni and Ian Prescott by Claire Mackay, The Touring Network

 

Read more from BRAW below

 

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