Viewpoint SPRING 2019 Spring 2019 - Page 42

ARTS “ volunteers, so why is that OK at music and art shows?” But the arts continue to be an under- funded sector across the board, and volunteers who wish to get involved are always welcome to help keep the creative scene buzzing in the town. LINDA LEWIS Director, Tunbridge Wells Puppetry Festival The biennial Puppetry Festival runs over three days in October at a variety of locations across the town. It brings a completely new dimension in terms of contemporary, innovative theatre, with subsidised tickets so that audiences can take a risk with something new. It’s a chance to participate in a cultural event, as well as bring vitality and excitement to “ IT’S A CHANCE TO PARTICIPATE IN A CULTURAL EVENT, AS WELL AS BRING VITALITY AND EXCITEMENT TO THE AREA “ “ BEING ABLE TO SHARE NEW MUSIC WITH NEW AUDIENCES, SEEING YOUNG MUSICIANS DEVELOP, LETTING PEOPLE ENJOY ESTABLISHED ACTS, SUPPORTING YOUNG PHOTOGRAPHERS AND WRITERS, AND OFFERING A SPACE TO COMMUNITY AND CHARITY GROUPS FOR ALL THINGS FROM COLLAGE WORKSHOPS TO SYRIAN MUSIC, MAKES THE WORK WORTHWHILE CAROLYN GRAY Local volunteer Carolyn has been volunteering in one way or another since her children were small. Now, she’s best known for her untiring support of The Forum and the local music scene. It began with approaching Jason Dormon and Richard Simm about organising a youth event. “My eldest son had just entered sixth form, and there was a concern that there wasn’t much for that age group to do socially,” recalls Carolyn. “The more I met with Jason and Richard, the more I got involved! Because I have an arts education, it felt like the right place to be.” It’s thanks to people like Carolyn that ticket prices stay affordable for a more diverse range of music lovers, making gigs and events accessible to all. “The Forum is still in existence because it’s mainly volunteer-run,” she says. “If the volunteer hours were costed in, ticket prices would be beyond the reach of low-income households, and community hire wouldn’t be possible.” Since 2016, The Forum has been a Community Interest Company, and Carolyn passionately believes that Tunbridge Wells would be a poorer place culturally and creatively without it – the main reason she finds the work so rewarding. “Being able to share new music with new audiences, seeing young musicians develop, letting people enjoy established acts, supporting young photographers and writers, and offering a space to community and charity groups for all things from collage workshops to Syrian music, makes the work worthwhile,” she remarks. “It’s great when both audiences and performers are happy at the end of an event.” Like so many others, Carolyn considers it a pity that the arts have to rely so heavily on volunteering. “It would be lovely if there was money for everyone, from bands playing their first gigs, to someone designing the show posters,” she reflects. “You don’t go to a pizza restaurant and expect it to be cheap because half the staff are