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Sunday, August 30, 2015

The Old School House Boscombe Blue Plaque Ceremony

I originally wrote this in March 2012 as a contribution to the struggle to keep the Old School House Arts Centre in Boscombe from being demolished.  The campaign was partially successful and today a blue plaque was installed to comemorate the work of Sir Percy Florence Shelley (son of the poet Percy Bysshe and Mary Shelley of ,Frankensttein, fame) who gave the building to the people of Boscombe.  Percy Florence was a great supporter of the arts  and of theatre in particular.  I have updated the poem tofit a happier time.

Rededication

Let us rededicate this building to the arts
Let us drive out the shadows of utilitarianism
Of Mediocrity, of settling for second best
Let us protest
That this is a place of striving
And creating
And trying for something just out of reach
Because that is what the arts are.

Let us rededicate this building to
Photography
To sculpture
To painting
To poetry
To theatre
To story telling
To writing
To knitting
To singing
To sewing
To dancing
To remembering
What happened here
To thinking of the future
To living in the now

Art is choice because
“Choice defines and expresses individual identity
What we choose to put in or leave out of an artwork
Is What we choose to put in or leave out of life

Art is movement.
It is the spinning of the potter’s wheel
It is the drawing of the bow across the strings.
It is the dancer pirouetting in the sunset,
It is the painter’s brush
And the mime artist’s hush.
And because it is movement
It is of the moment.
It is ephemeral and gone in an instant
To live on as a memory
And as a moment of change.

Let us rededicate it to children covered in paint
That they may go home gloriously happy
Ignoring their parents’ and carers’ tutting.
To those who have no other voices
That they may sing out loud and be heard
To those who have no other family
That this may be a place where they may sit and spin yarns

Let us remember here
That without arts
We cannot grasp the past
And, by running our finger tips and lips over it,
Understand it and ourselves;
That without arts
We cannot draw the future and try to dance with it
And understand what we and the world could be;
That without arts
We cannot mould the present
And hold it to the light up so that we can say
“That is good”

And when good people
Ask us whether
We would rather have the arts or houses, or the NHS or Social Services
We must answer boldly
“We need both”
Because without arts
There will be no point in having the others

Let us rededicate this building to the arts
Let us drive out the shadows of utilitarianism
Of Mediocrity, of settling for second best
Let us protest
That this is a place of striving
And creating
And trying for something just out of reach
Because that is what life is.


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