The why of the work #ATF2015 questions


Questions swirl, morph, continue. The process of asking them seems as important as the actual answer. Because our answers are different. As they should be. As they have to be. From our different contexts, our different needs, our different passions.



I’m at the Australian Theatre Forum in Sydney this week and those questions…


Why do we make art?

Who is it for?

Does it even do anything?


…always find their way into these conversations.


I attended an artist talk with Danny Braverman in this morning’s breakout session and he touched on audience reactions after a show (and what that says about the show). I’m badly paraphrasing here, but along the lines off:


“‘Oh the parking is shit, not much to eat’. Well the show can’t have been so great. Or you have the shows ‘Oh the lighting was nice, wasn’t that performer great.’ Yeah but what was it about? But then the ones where people are sharing anecdotes of their own with each other – their own stories in response to the show.”



That’s where my hunger begins.

Or builds.

I want the ideas.

The rage.

The arguments.

I don’t want to see pretty lights or have great parking.

I want to stretch and be stretched.

I want people to see themselves and each other or NOT see themselves in such an extreme way that they have to talk about it and argue and tell their stories. I want the community that brings. The sense of empowerment, connection, change.


Why do I make art?

Because I feel compelled to. Because I feel a responsibility to. Because the experience of making or seeing art CAN change a life, or a vote.


Who is it for?

My community, my family. All the people like me who feel like they have no place in fancy foyers with fancy people. My granddad. My mum. My children.


Does it even do anything?

It can. It can be the net that catches you. The door that opens a new way of living. It was for me. And I hope that the art I make in some small way, somewhere along the line has even a fraction of the impact on others that others work had on me.


It’s not a perfect answer. Or a finished answer.


It’s my answer today though.





8 responses to “The why of the work #ATF2015 questions

  1. I love this. Who can explain that ‘thing’ that drives a creative and the fulfillment it brings oneself…? Do it for the love and the rest will come but as long as you fill that absolute urge to create..


    • I think for me one of the biggest aspects is the sense of responsibility I feel to others. To contribute to making sense in and of this world somehow. It’s the (potential) impact that drives me to create I think most of all.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. This really made me think. Yes, why do we feel compelled to create? Why am I miserable if I don’t write? Who reads what I write, and if not many people are reading then why must I continue? Perhaps the urge of creativity is a pure pulse that just can’t be stopped.


    • I definitely wonder who reads what I write, but I’ve been really surprised actually by a couple of private comments over the last few years that have made me realise that even when I don’t get to hear the impact, it does still matter and make a different to people. I just have to remind myself sometimes.


  3. I think of that quote – “I just want to make beautiful things even if nobody cares.” If you have the creative bug then you have to create, whether it’s painting, crafting, baking or writing.


    • I definitely think there is something almost compulsive about creatives. Although I wouldn’t describe much of what I create as beautiful (well, not in a traditional sense anyway), a lot of it is ugly and difficult sometimes, but (I hope) opening up important and useful conversations. Do you know who the quote was by?


  4. weekendparent

    I work in a cultural diplomacy role, and what you have described about the question of why and creativity is very real. Why? Because it does matter, and it does influence and it does have an impact and it does get you thinking.


    • I absolutely agree. The impact on me (which I wrote about Griffith Review last year when I was at the beginning of my journey was very real and I think because I had that strong catalyst myself, it helps continue to drive me. I’m really interested in what a cultural diplomacy role entails though? Would love to hear more about what you do and it’s impact! 🙂


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