The CAPtain’s Blog – Birthday celebrations and thanks

Back in 1999 when the thing that people feared the most was the Millennium Bug which only was thought to affect our computers (but of course was seen as a doomsday scenario) who could’ve thought that 21 years later the whole world would have been so convulsed in such turmoil through a global coronavirus pandemic. When we think of those heady innocent millennial days when Martin Lynch had the clear sightedness to develop a community arts initiative that would link communities right across Belfast in fundamentally creative ways. Now, 21 years later, Community Arts Partnership is not so much celebrating its birthday as recognising the resilience of the artists and communities we serve, for whom these 2 decades have been far from easy. And today, we pay tribute to hundreds of thousands of people across our towns and cities, our villages and townlands, who are struggling against this massive upheaval and coping with pain, loss, loneliness and fear.

Everyone in our community has suffered in different ways; many have heard the plea from the arts sector but the community sector and indeed the organisations and populations that it supports, has been equally devastated. Of course, many industries have been decimated and many lives have been changed forever. Many friendships have struggled to be maintained against the divisive backdrop of coronavirus and the restrictions to contain it. And old divisions have surfaced, with anger and intolerance. But we have seen the Black Lives Matter movement address one of those fault lines in our world and we all hope for better days, beyond racism and sectarianism and fear. It was never acceptable for sectarianism, racism, sexism and hate to become so casual and pervasive. Just a few weeks ago, in a public forum, I experienced the casual sexism of others for the first time in this sector. A leader of another organisation threw a brickbat charged with sexist language without any remorse or apology. If this society is to grow, move on and build, especially in the difficult centenary year of 2021, then such causal dismissals of our neighbours need to stop. We need to focus on the real enemy in our midst – poverty, injustice and inequality and not waste our energy on the careless and the spiteful.

For now though, our thoughts are with the present struggles…

Read the rest of ‘Birthday celebrations and thanks’ here

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New Belfast Community Arts Initiative trading as Community Arts Partnership is a registered charity (XR 36570) and a company limited by guarantee (Northern Ireland NI 37645).Registered with The Charity Commission as New Belfast Community Arts Initiative - NIC105169.