Making Time: Arts & Self Care Forum

Last month, staff from Regional Arts Victoria attended Making Time: Arts and Self-Care, a two day forum at the Footscray Community Arts Centre.

Coming out of discussions between various arts workers at the Regional Arts Australia conference in Kalgoorlie in 2014, including Regional Arts Victoria’s Liz Zito, the forum aimed to open discussions around looking out for the individual artist and arts worker in an under-resourced sector, especially individuals who are working in potentially complex community settings.

2015_Making Time_Craig San Roque Salt session_Photo Deb Milligan

Craig San Roque’s salt drawing session. Photo by Deb Milligan.

Sessions were led by Craig San Roque, Darryl Wade and Judy Atkinson, with a panel chaired by Lenine Bourke and reflection sessions led by Scotia Monkivitch and Karen Hethey.

Craig San Roque’s session started us off in a creative and reflective setting. One staff member stated that it was the best opening to a forum that they had ever experience. Drawing in salt, he gave us allegories to represent the artist or arts worker, the “gun for hire”, working in complex situations.

A highlight for many of us was Judy Atkinson’s session. She spoke to us about her work using the arts in healing, sharing personal stories of working in trauma affected communities. We discussed inter-generational trauma, how the arts can have transformative effects, and the impacts of such work on the individual worker. During the session, Judy guided us in creating our own artistic materials for self-care. Through creative writing we made an empowering message for ourselves, and we also made a self-care booklet to take home. Judy’s blurb in the program said “Arts gives language to make people safe”, a concept clearly demonstrated throughout the full two days.

The two days, and in particular the sessions for reflection, highlighted the passion that lies in our sector, and the motivation for continued conversations and practical strategies to address the need for focus on a self-care in the arts.

ArtsHub’s Madeleine Dore attended both days and wrote her own summary, including 50 tips for looking after yourself.

Regional Arts Victoria is also continuing the discussion. We are conducting two Regional Cultural Forums on Arts, Health & Succession planning, in November, in Dunkeld and Bonegilla.