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CULTURE CLINIC: How To Begin To Heal

Creatives as change agents in a hostile society

Creatives are at the forefront of changing our economy because our processes have vast healing potential. Ironically, as valuable as our processes are, our society still makes very limited attempts to compensate. We continue to toil in inflexible, uncreative, unfair and unworkable systems. Our gifts are used but our needs are not catered to. We are expected to tolerate, to “create” and not complain.

John Hunte in a Workshop in the late 90s with Richild Springer (late). Can you guess who else is in this photo?

As pioneers, we creatives remain at the heart of this society, connected.  While as artists working towards exhibitions or productions, teachers in academies and institutions, creative directors of community groups and arts administrators in state organizations, we still experience scant respect. Oftentimes, several organizers and producers seek to discredit or short-change our sound investment toward the development of culture, heritage and creative industries. That said, there are four things that I would like us to bear in mind and one thing we must do more of.

  1. Remember that creativity is an inclusive, inherent quality that all humans possess.
  2. Recall our first encounter with our gifts. This moment began the journey to retain our creative intelligences to excel in our chosen fields. Throughout our lifetime, we were able to protect and hone these talents. Therefore, reflecting on these first encounters are important. It compels us to reconnect with the realization and the wonder of that ‘aha’ moment. Also, we get to notice our “gatekeepers” and the role they played in our emerging.
  3. Recognize how far we have come and what we have achieved, as we come to “know” ourselves. Although some of our achievements may have defied convention and logic, it provided a sense of connection and inner respect for our creative endeavour.
  4. Realize that everything that we experience that challenges our ability to thrive has to do with the way the society has been set up to treat creatives. EVERYTHING! Our location is NOT OUR FAULT. Further, to treat other artists and creatives in the same manner shows where we have internalized the oppression. When we act out these stereotypes without awareness, we risk reinforcing those hurts on ourselves and modelling this dysfunction to future generations.
John Hunte in Harrison College Orchestra 1970s/1980s led by Janice Millington (late) . Do you see John? Do you recognise anyone else?

Groundwork for a healthy thriving community will be set as we heal and celebrate ourselves more. So, let’s tell our stories. Acknowledge where we are ignorant or neglectful. Embrace uncomfortable feelings. Repair the breech. Sever the colonizing narrative set up to erase and exclude. Use policies of inclusion and integrity to make steps to keep creativity central regardless of how things are intended. Replace being combative and getting distracted by “why did this happen”. Instead, use creative resources to focus on “how to repair it”. Let’s practice compassion, empathy, transparency and radical honesty. Remove competition in its extreme sense and replace it with collaboration. Life simply works better that way.

“The revolution is here…”

Empress Zingha

Culture Clinic is a weekly column crafted by Dr. John Hunte. Picture by Adrian Richards.

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