Connecting the dots to hit the right note

A recent story on the local TV station NBN really brought home what the term Community Arts is all about.

The story focussed on the revival of the ukulele as a respected instrument and the explosion of Ukestras in Australia.  An Ukestra is a ukulele orchestra and outside of Australia has become a phenomenally popular movement.  In the last few days I had the chance to speak to some of the people who belong to the various Ukestras in the Newcastle and Hunter region.

Started by local community musician Mark Jackson, there are now weekly gatherings of uke learners and players in Newcastle, Lake Macquarie, Port Stephens and Maitland.  Some members have reported that it has literally been a lifeline for them to connect with others in the community, to make new friends, to gain a new interest, and even a new lease on life in some instances!

Members are finding new ways to share their love of music with others in the community by visiting retirement villages, hospitals, and giving low key performances for various community groups.  One group has even been invited to participate in a major uke festival next year in Melbourne.

Thus like a pebble in a pond, one man’s drive to make a contribution to his community and share his skills with others, has connected individuals and communities throughout the region.  The ripples create a small wave that connects these individuals to other, like-minded folk throughout the country….and further.  Such connections improve the life of each person in making them feel part of the community.  This ‘sense of belonging’ is a crucial element for humans and is part of man’s basic needs. It enhances an individual’s quality of life.

This is a great example of Community Arts in action – an interest shared by one member of the community with others, which is subsequently embraced and grown within and by the community.  And whether you like ukuleles or not – it simply demonstrates that one person CAN make a difference to many others through their Art.