Arts Together winter appeal
It is that time of year when we are caught in the grip of a cold and dark winter. It’s also the time of year when the older people who attend Arts Together weekly groups are at their most vulnerable and fragile – two have died this winter and others are in hospital. Further more, it is the time of year when Trustees and staff have to once again acknowledge the hole in our finances and wonder if we can continue.
Our little charity has so far ridden the chaos of austerity, government and local authority cuts, the stripping and restructuring of health and social care and the privatisation of essential services. Arts Together is just one of thousands of small charities and voluntary agencies that have seen the needs of vulnerable and marginalised people increase whilst statutory and private providers retreat to plan, rationalise and devise strategies. Meanwhile the essential human virtue to care for others becomes just another social conundrum in an elaborate game of economics.
I am unsure what motivation drives me to want Arts Together to continue. Maybe it is having met the older people who come to share food, fun and creativity for a couple of hours each week, and then seeing myself amongst them in the not too distant future. Mostly they are lonely, often struggling with illness and disability, frightened, confused, frustrated by loss, distanced by miles or time from family and friends.
If we take time to imagine ourselves when we are old, what is the picture we see? Is it a future filled with sunny days, lunches or coffee with friends, grand-children visiting often, holidays and cruises and endless worry-free leisure? For some that may be the reality, but many end long and purposeful lives alone and in pain, ignored and often cared for by bustling and stressed strangers in surroundings not of their choosing. Our society has a odd view of ageing. We regard older people as having less value or as a burden because they no longer contribute to our economy – unless they are wealthy and then they deserve respect. The common thinking is that age puts us in the past. We have done our bit, had our time and now we need to become invisible and keep quiet.
The fact is, this is a story with no end. Each week we welcome new participants to Arts Together groups who are desperate for company, support and the chance to actually “do something creative”! For sixteen years this has happened and the need just increases, the groups expand and the money is harder to get. Our “volunteer” fund-raiser has submitted 45 applications for grants since April 2014. Each takes days of work and our success rate is good compared to other charities. But every year we are left short of funds with the result that: essential staff don’t get paid, resources are begged and borrowed, we skimp on materials and worst of all, cover any shortfall with our personal money.
And in February 2015 this is our reality, our mindful acknowledgement of the possible limits of passion and enthusiasm and sheer bloody stubbornness. The truth is, all of us share another, saner, healthier, caring world, outside of politics, public sector cuts and private sector profiteering. In this other world we act to support our most isolated and vulnerable fellow humans, attempting to improve their well-being and their quality of life. It’s simply what we all do as human beings in response to some instinctive need and maybe a wish that, when our turn comes, we may be cared for in the same way. I like to think that within these little acts of kindness and generosity we are creating an image of the future – a future we would like to inhabit.
Our small team of staff, trustees, artists and volunteers want to keep Arts Together going for ever. We enjoy fulfilling our roles and we love seeing the joyful difference that our modest creative activities bring to the faces of participants. As I write this I can see bulbs in the garden poking up through a dusting of morning snow and that carries a hint of spring and a promise of warmth and light…and the ambition to see Arts Together celebrate another year of art, fun and creativity.
We wanted to give you a little glimpse of why we believe Arts Together is so important and relevant. There are many ways you can help us. Money – always money – keeps us going and enables us to pay artists a fair fee for their time, provide transport, carers, food, venues and materials. It also covers our small administrative expenses and sometimes pays for our two contracted, freelance staff members – sometimes not. We don’t own or rent offices, we have no company cars, computers or material assets. We travel light! Look at our accounts here at the charity commission or just ask us where the money goes.
- Text a donation using JustGiving. Text the message: TEXT44 £10 (or other amount) to:70070. The donation is added to your phone bill. Qualifies for gift aid.
- Online at Localgiving.com. Qualifies for gift aid
- By cheque made out to Arts Together and posted to Arts Together, PO Box 4241, Edington BA13 4WG
- Online at Localgiving.com. Qualifies for gift aid
- By standing order using the following details: Account name: Arts Together. Sort code: 30-98-75. Account number: 02781996
We always need keen volunteers from Wiltshire and the surrounding area to either support the groups and artists or work behind the scenes. It may be only a couple of regular hours a week but it’s our volunteers that keep the charity going. We offer training workshops, meet-up gatherings and working with some lovely people.
Karolyne on 01380 831434. Email: [email protected]
By post: Arts Together, PO Box 4241, Edington BA13 4WG