Written by Common Ground Leader, Bethany James
#1. Better your mental health and wellbeing!
Keeping you focused on a project or an idea, being involved in the arts and heritage is one of the most amazing ways to feel like you’re doing something good with your days . Having time away from social media and the havoc of daily life is a key way to bettering your mental health and the arts are definitely a moment of solitude for the overworked mind. What’s great is that when we get involved in creative projects away from our normal schedules, great things will always follow and you’ll develop new perspectives on your wellness and what you actually want to gain in your life. So see this as a sign to do something good for you, to take a breather and enjoy your time in the arts and heritage.
#2. Industry experience and employability
When making applications for higher education, jobs and internships in conservation and galleries etc., the key thing which excites people is your involvement in various projects. Whether this is a new way of thinking, a proactive mindset or making the most of a pre-existing talent of yours, I believe that being involved in the arts and heritage, in a ‘many fingers in many pies’ type of way is a path to success in most fields. And what better way than to impress people than to show how you have utilised your passion to get where you want to be. From my own experience, evidencing my passion for arts & heritage has been the strongest factor in getting me into positions within creative projects, and as my experience develops, so does my enthusiasm for the sector (AKA there is no negative involved!).
#3. Become part of new communities/projects
Within the worlds of heritage and art lie so many subcategories of interest. Due to the amount of opportunities to experience, so many activities are seen as ‘niche’ interests not open to novices. I can personally say that in my late teens I thought I’d have to be good at something automatically in order to engage with the activity in a larger group – but I was just worried! Yet I think we can all agree that doing new arts activities can lead to surprising results – this experimentation is the beauty of it. When you find someone who has a common interest with you, regardless of ability or skill, you end up building connections, and as a result will end up growing a community and confidence in the realm. It is these connections which give way to more connections; where soon enough you’ll find yourself surrounded by people who teach you while you simultaneously teach them.
#4. Be the change happening from within
Those of us dealing with ableism of all sorts (like class/gender/race/health) often bear the brunt of the ableism that can be found in the institution of arts and heritage. However, the arts as a sector are increasing their efforts in understanding the barriers facing these people, and making adjustments, to support them in these spaces. Thus making space for people who require the support and creating more room for adjustment in these spaces. It is wonderful to see that areas of society are realising that further needs should not be seen as a burden to able-bodied people. By joining groups like Common Ground, you’ll be able to see this movement moving forward and strengthening each month; and as a result you’ll have more support and trust in the community. This is also a space for the voices of the minority to be heard and for us to take charge by being the change happening from within.
Photo credits: Bethany James