Sarah Fox, our Creative Producer is running the British 10K on 12 July 2015. Here she explains why she has decided to run and raise money for People United.
How can I explain to you why I’ve chosen to train and run a 10K to raise funds for People United? I guess I could tell you about People United. We’re an arts charity based in Canterbury which explores how arts and creativity can help to build a kinder more caring society. We do this through large-scale community projects and an annual artist commission programme all underpinned by rigorous research. But you might already know that.
I could explain how I passionately believe in the arts as a brilliant way of creating positive social change and that my career to date has pretty much been led by that belief. But for those of you who know me, you’ll already know that.
So as so much of our work is about stories, let me share with you some of mine, and hopefully you’ll get an idea of why I think this work is important and why I will be bright red, running and panting and sweating (I am not a natural runner!) around London on 12 July.
Last November, on a cold, misty evening artist Bob Karper was setting up a projector in the boot of my car on the playground of Lunsford Primary School. Into the playground came Alex, a pupil who had written poem about his Nan and who was so desperate to attend the final event at the school and read his poem out he had made his Dad pick him early from Scouts. We were not expecting Alex, but our project about who he treasured in his life had meant so much to him, that he had tormented his reluctant dad into taking him. He arrived with his scout uniform on and a giant smile on his face.
The first Giant Picnic
In 2010, the first Giant Picnic took place. With over 1000 people attending the picnic it was a brilliant sight. Music, dance, and street theatre filled the memorial park. Local community and voluntary groups came together with local and not so local residents. Scanning the event, I saw people having fun, signing up to volunteer and chatting to those who live down the road from them yet who they had never had a conversation with. It’s still happening, five years later.
Etta and Etta
During We All Do Good Things I met a lady called Etta from Age Concern in Herne Bay. Whilst an artist illustrated her memories, we listened carefully to her stories about losing her first husband during the war and it became clear how her courage and resilience helped her to carry on through that terrible time. I will never forget her warmth and humour, and the £1 coin she gave me for my unborn baby – who is now a happy five year old called Etta (pictured).
I had many more written down, but you would be here all day reading them. I haven’t written about the mum who spoke of her pride in her son for talking openly to a playwright about his role as a young carer in the family, or the lovely lady who told me during rehearsals of Wonderstruck at Manchester Museum that the project had been an important way for her to make friends and find her way in a new community.
I haven’t told you about the eight ice skaters who came together early one morning and skated on a darkened ice rink in Brixton, or the time an artist told me about a family who sat with her on a train journey back to London and who generously shared their thoughts about their family values for her artist commission. Nor about the woman who wrote to tell us about how her mother-in-law, who’d had a difficult time moving into a care home, became full of laughter, telling stories about the primary school children we brought to see her to sing, dance and share stories together.
My point I hope is becoming clear. I want to raise money for the company I work for because of the people. It’s all about people. And the arts is a fantastic way of developing connections and bringing people together, of learning about each other, of challenging ourselves and our values, of getting better at understanding each other and each other’s lives. An important cause, wouldn’t you agree?
You can sponsor Sarah on https://www.justgiving.com/runningSarahFox/