22 years ago today, Martin Lynch established this organisation as the Belfast child of the Community Arts Forum. Of course in 2011 through the merger of CAF and New Belfast, a new organisation was born… Community Arts Partnership that now serves the whole region and indeed beyond.
Over the course of all those years there have been many trials and tribulations, not least the untimely loss of our good friend and music champion Geoff Harden in 2006, to whom we have dedicated our music studios. But these past couple of years have probably been among the most difficult for CAP and of course, for so many people across our sector and indeed our world.
At this time of reflection as one year closes and another opens, the turbulence that we find in our lives has never been greater. On this, literally the darkest day of the year, we can only look forward to brighter days. We are anxious about our health in the face of a devastating global pandemic. We are concerned for our family, our friends, our jobs. We’ve missed so many opportunities and we’ve experienced terrible loss, made worse by restrictions designed to protect us all. We’ve seen anger and confusion turn to toxicity. We’ve seen division grow around questions of identity and belief. And amidst all this, amid the lockdowns and circuit breaks and pings on our phone, somehow we have struggled through. But we have all been changed for better or worse by the experience. The struggle for freelance artists and performers has been so acute – their world has been turned upside down and for many it has unbearable. As a creative community based organisation, we understand this and we’ve seen the wider impacts too… we have seen them reflected back to us in poetry, images and music. We have also seen how our sensitive and professional artist/facilitators have supported host groups and schools express their experience and the hope and ambition for better days ahead.
CAP has radically altered the way we work in the past 22 months, how we engage with our community organisations and schools right across Northern Ireland and into the South and we have relied as ever on the good graces, the wisdom, the generosity and the creativity of our poets, our artists, our filmmakers, project coordinators and host organisations that have done their level best to maintain creativity within our communities. Thank you each and every one of you.
I really want to express my gratitude to the CAP team, Gordon, Steven and Josh, taking turns to be in the office and keep information services and programmes open ; our board of trustees too who have met via zoom or conference call and kept the governance of the organisation going; all the project coordinators: Sally, Heather, Tracey, Carole and Shelley who have kept the projects moving.
To you and all of them, to all our funders, especially our principal supporter, the Arts Council of Northern Ireland and all our colleagues and friends, we wish you a happy and healthy holiday and look forward to working with you and supporting you through dedicated community arts practice, advocacy and delivery in 2022.