Thursday 24th July 2014
As the proverb goes, "It takes a village to raise a child", and I'm sure that's true of me. I grew up in Chagford, a small town on the edge of Dartmoor in Devon. For a place of only 1500 or so people, it's a busy and buzzing community filled with arts events coming out of your ears. Last week saw Chagstock music festival, this weekend Ex Libris, a flower festival charting writers living in and associated with the area (I'm honoured to be one of the featured performance writers). The town also boasts Chagword literary festival, Chagford Film Festival and a big dose of other community events thrown in. It's also home to Starling Arts' annual Summer School, which will this year premiere 'Return to Aesop', the new musical Emily and I have written together. For a town so small, it has a remarkable arts scene and, more importantly, feeling of community spirit. To have such a sense of belonging and support there is incredible.
Hot off the press: the scripts for 'Return to Aesop'
It was all this spirit and support that inspired me as a child to love anything and everything that brings groups of people together, and this mentality (along with the similar experiences Emily grew up with) is undoubtedly one of the founding blocks on which Starling Arts is built.
It's no surprise then that we decided this term should end with what was, to all intents and purposes, a village fête right in the heart of London. The inaugural Starling Summer Fêtival brought together our community of singers, their friends and family through games, cakes, bric-à-brac, limbo competitions and song, and was a huge success. As someone commented on Twitter, it was proof that community spirit is alive and well and exists in London, which is exactly what we set out to achieve when founding Starling Arts four and half years ago.
Buzzing - the 2014 Starling Summer Fêtival
The event raised money for an ambitious 5th Anniversary Concert we're planning for February next year. In celebrating what Starling Arts has achieved in its first five years of life, we hope that this anniversary show will bring together both our London and Devon communities in a jam-packed 'best of' concert. We recommend you set aside Saturday 21st February 2015 so you don't miss out on what I know will be a fantastic celebration not just of music but, more importantly, of people.
Whether Starling Arts is becoming a 'village' of sorts, helping to raise and shape lives is not for me to say, but witnessing the ever-growing Starling community is by far the most rewarding aspect of what we do. Offering people, if they want it, the chance to belong somewhere and have a support network, especially in a crowded and often lonely city like London, is what gets me out of bed in the morning and, for as long as we are able, is what we'll always try to do - it's just a bonus that we all get to sing whilst doing it!
More blog posts on the Starling Arts community: