Ciaron: What Does Art Mean to Me

This week we have a response from Manchester International Festivals Cultural Connector, Ciaron Wilkinson.

Ciaron leads on outreach at Manchester International Festival, one of the world’s leading arts festivals. He is passionate about the impact of arts and culture on social change and putting communities at the forefront of decision making. A lot of Ciaron’s work is building towards The Factory, a world-class cultural space in the heart of the city currently under construction– and a year-round home for MIF, which will stage one of Europe’s most ambitious and adventurous year-round creative programmes. Inspired by Manchester’s unmatched history of innovation, it will present bold new work by the world’s most exciting artists whilst developing the next generation of creative talent.

This is what he had to say in response to 'What does art mean to me?'

Art can be a way in which we relate to each other and understand each other’s differences (A Mile in my shoes), a way to have conversations without words (Extraordinary Wall o̶f̶ ̶S̶i̶l̶e̶n̶c̶e̶) and, in 2020 more than ever before, it can be a vehicle for the social change we all want to see (A Conversation for Change). There’s a commonly held belief that certain communities have a low appetite for arts and culture which is something that has always irritated me. There is plenty of appetite, but if your definition of art is too rigid then you won’t find it.

Art can be a 65 hour durational performance at The Whitworth (Coal on Cotton) and it can be two friends sat in a takeaway listening to a track one of them made on their phone. Young people will tell you art isn’t for them because they can’t paint but nobody is telling them that everyone can be an artist, you can find art within computer games like Fortnite (Virtual Factory) or that the vast majority of the careers within the arts are ‘behind the scenes’ anyway. Art can be growing your own food (Let’s Keep Growing), art can be talking on the phone (Dial) and art can even be planning your own funeral (Over My Dead Body). Art is for everybody, but it’s how we communicate this that’s vital. There are some brilliant initiatives which are looking to bridge this gap and the work that the Manchester Cultural Education Partnership and The Factory Academy are doing will, I hope, lead to a better understanding of not only what art is but why it’s so important.

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