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I’m back…

… from the seaside. We walked from Portwrinkle in Cornwall to Salcombe in Devon, which included WADING through one estuary. Not exactly what I’d imagined (not having read the book properly before we went) so it was lucky that it was low tide half way through the afternoon. The weather was remarkably glorious, so it’s something of a challenge to come back to a really rather cold, flat grey, wet week here in Nottingham now.

BUT…

…then this turned up yesterday.

I was already in Nottingham in 1984 when Torvill and Dean won the Olympic gold medal and remember going to see them perform in a tent in Forest Fields (if memory serves….it sounds a bit unlikely when I write it down). So this represents something of a nostalgia trip for me and many others locally and further afield but the video got me thinking about more than that.

I know I’m not alone in feeling disturbed about a swing to the extreme right across Europe in last week’s elections, and about the low turnout figures that were behind the results. There is any amount of analysis and interpretation to be made of voting statistics and I’m not about to dive into that now, but I do think that it is easy to feel alienated and helpless in the huge issues that we face on so many levels – economic, political, environmental. It leads to a sense of pointlessness about getting involved in terms of turning up to vote or engaging in what’s going on, whether locally or nationally.

Arts projects don’t necessarily lead to political engagement – although just writing that makes me wonder if there is research out there that might prove they do, or at least there’s a research project in there if not – but I found this film inspiring in its depiction of the diversity of my adopted home city and about the resilience of the arts organisations that worked together to make the film. In some ways of course, it is just a bit of fun (and is feel-good on that level) but I think it also illustrates that the whole really is greater than the sum of the parts in so many areas of life. Unless we engage with other people in a tolerant way, we won’t find out what we can achieve together. On an individual level that can leave people isolated and fearful – which can also lead to a very negative and depressed world view. In my opinion, that can lead to a (very) vicious circle.

I’m sure some of the funding for the film will have required some kind of measurement or evaluation of its impact. These things are notoriously difficult to pin down in meaningful ways. Do you measure numbers of views on Youtube? Or emotions and how long or in what way they manifest themselves? Or what the participants got out of it? Or whether it’s affected Nottingham’s sense of community? And if so, what does that mean exactly? Or – perhaps – it’s enough to know that it has got people thinking.

In which case, for me, it’s worked.