As some of you know, I will working be at the 'Jungle' at the refugee camp in Calais next week with the brilliant Good Chance Theatre and Pan Intercultural Arts. I will be there among all the brave people who risk their lives to flee torture, war and persecution for the hope of a peaceful life elsewhere. Perhaps on these shores.
The aim is simple: to get creative in as many ways as possible WITH as many people as possible. Especially the children, unaccompanied minors and women. I am told they stay mostly in their tents all day, as the ratio between the sexes is 400 women : 4000 men. Good Chance is already doing VITAL work through the arts and have made, a precious, playful, hopeful, creative, social space where people can connect to themselves and to each other.
Of course this makes me think.
It makes me wonder how the Arts, Creativity/(ies) and Culture are seen by so many (proper grown ups, I call them) as a luxury, a cherry on the cake, the first bit to be sliced off a budget or an 'expendable' item in our children's education. As though the arts are 'nice but not necessary' (Elliot Eisner), that taking the arts away will somehow improve people's lives, helping to end austerity and solve the economic crisis.
At times, I feel like Alice free-falling through Wonderland. It's almost surreal.
And yet in a place where not even food nor shelter is sufficient, where basic physiological needs are not being met, how strange that a theatre space is serving, 'lifelining' and providing other ways to survive these catastrophic, apocalyptic days. Hundreds of people who have lost their families and may die trying to reach GB, still gather daily to find meaning in song, stories, dance, performances and connect.
Good Chance Theatre proves one thing to me. Something many of you already know : that arts are not and should not be seen as a luxury. They are a basic human need, part of who we are, how we live and make sense of the world we are born into. It is stitched into the fabric of being human. For those who rate Maslow's 'Hierarchy of Needs' I would put them really near the base of his diagram in a heartbeat.
So, if you haven't already read about Good Chance - please do so here. If you find yourself missing me a bit (cheeky, I know!) then check out video by Juliet Stevenson which gives a clear picture of the general situation there. I will do my best to post more when I get there. Perhaps I will be less angry.
Also, if YOU would like to do something - we will be stopping off at a supermarket to buy food to donate before we enter the camp. If anyone wants to contribute something (even £1) to the kitty send me a message before Sunday morning and I'll include your contribution.
Je vous aime.