Creative thinking will connect artists across East Devon

A self-portrait by Exmouth artist, Anna Fitzgerald

A self-portrait by Exmouth artist, Anna Fitzgerald - Credit: Anna Fitzgerald

Exmouth artist Anna Fitzgerald writes for this week's Exmouth community education column

When you look at the aims of ACED (Arts & Culture East Devon), what it is and where it wants to go, on paper it is awesome and amazing, a forum for all art practices in East Devon.

Museums, festivals, workshops, local arts, in fact everything in the art world it seems, from the lowly poet in the spare back bedroom to the huge community arts festival.

I am really impressed that this is being created. I think we can all agree it is very much needed.

How East Devon has managed to produce such a varied arts scene over the last few years is also very impressive, there must have been some very hard working individuals, and organisations, pedalling really hard.

I can’t wait to see what these ACED people can manage with the support and encouragement of a wider art community.

When I started painting seven years ago, I was very much like every other lone creative out there, working solo, and joining the odd group using Facebook as my community.

But it’s important to note that most creatives who work in isolation do not thrive as well as those in a supportive community.

Feedback, critiques, mentors, and encouragement, can only happen when there is a community.
This leads me on to collaboration, for me this is the synergy, and so important in a cultural forum.

I am not talking about the networking that involves name badges and a garibaldi biscuit. I am talking about connecting people, and their creativity, one-to-one connections, or people connecting to organisations that can support them.

If a forum, platform, or umbrella for creatives (call it what you want), is to work then it needs to have strong bonds built between all the different creative categories in East Devon, which is no small task!

I’m sure we all know the benefit of art in our society, how it builds wellbeing, and how communities can keep us all on track and engaged. I can’t wait to see what East Devon becomes with a strong support network from ACED.

I make my living as a painter. I am artist-in-residence at Powderham Castle, I co-run two galleries, I created the Exmouth Art Trail, and Woohoo Art Events. Also, in June I ran ‘Arts Month’, a project that engaged 500 artists.

I’m not saying this in a boastful way, far from it, because just like everyone else I lack confidence in areas that are new to me.

I have never applied for funding, that’s far too daunting! I have never applied for any art role, or job, I would never know where to even start.

Bizarrely though, as a gallery owner I often can’t seem to find the poets, and performance artists from the outsider art I so want, I wish I could.

There really is a huge gap at the moment in connecting creatives in East Devon, and I am hoping that ACED will support us all so that we can create a strong art-influenced culture.

My motivation as an ACED champion for art is to motivate people, and connect art institutions with that poet in the spare bedroom. I know I think big, and I’m an eternal optimist, but we are very privileged to be at the beginning, and I want this process to be strong and vibrant.

If anyone has any questions, or wants to contact me, I hope you do. ACED is not just for museums, and libraries it is for everyone!

Anna Fitzgerald sea.dog.art@gmail.com and for ACED rgooding@eastdevon.gov.uk

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