I was delighted to receive the Mayor of Milton Keynes’ Community Award 2019-2020 this month. During lockdown, any small positive is a very welcome break! To be recognised is both humbling and motivating for me ...
The arts sector is often viewed through a social lens of ‘luxury’, and we generally don’t consider the real social value of artistic endeavours and the benefit to our places and communities.
Although distinct in their different approaches, the core of each sector remains simple and agreeable. Both are about creative exploration, testing, trialling, developing and producing. Furthermore, both sectors have the power to fundamentally change history, define social structures and create the playing field in which ‘life’ is played out. Yes, this is big thinking philosophy stuff, but forms the ethos that the Black Sheep Collective operates under.
When we first set up BSC in 2013, we were clear from the start that whatever creative outputs we generate, 'social benefit' must be intrinsic throughout all of our projects’ individual trajectories.
To date, I am pleased that none of our work has ever operated in silos. We have always engaged a strong network of staff, volunteers, artists, practitioners and freelancers in our work. Our flagship Social Enterprise, Bar Bar Black Sheep, continues to deliver social value and remains a vital community asset and was set up, by the people, for the people.
This Community Award has much greater meaning not only to myself, but to the whole organisation overall. It recognises our social enterprise model. It recognises that business can be done in a ‘good way’ via our structure as a Community Interest Company. But above all, it reminds me that a ‘community’ is not just about physical infrastructure, financial viability and policy, it is quite simply, the people.
I love the communities we have worked in, the ones we continue to work in during this difficult time and I’m looking forward to the new projects we have lined up that will expand our community reach further.
I would like to thank Councillor Sam Crooks, outgoing Mayor of Milton Keynes, for this touching accolade and share this award with our communities, whom I hope are all safe and well during this challenging time.
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