Trusting the process, again – Francois Matarasso

In January 2021, for the first time in my life, I wrote a long, detailed outline for a community art workshop.

It was the first session in new project I’d entitled ‘Wish You Were Here’ and it was also my first attempt at doing creative work online. I was living on a mountain in rural France, and the dead of winter seemed well named. The darkness is deep here (so deep we’ve applied to be a dark sky sanctuary) but it felt even deeper in the first coronavirus winter. The UK was back in lockdown, deaths were rising, and the days were short and gloomy.

And here I was, starting a creative writing project for Boston (in Lincolnshire), not face to face as had been planned for last spring, but online. I hadn’t met any of the people who might join, nor the other writer I’d be working with. So, that outline was like a guide rope designed to get us all up that unknown first slope. But in the past, I’ve preferred to work without such safeguards, preferring to be with people and listen for the right direction. My outline felt like a lesson plan, and I’ve always believed that, whatever community art is, it’s not teaching.

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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.