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Don't walk, dance!

Cate Nelson-Shaw

Creative Scotland Board Member Cate Nelson-Shaw shares her thoughts on why Creativity Matters.

As they stood on the stage in anticipation of lights up I could see and feel the excitement… a class of mini dancers eagerly awaiting the start of their Christmas show. Every year Dancebase, Scotland’s National Centre for Dance, presents their December performance, showcasing the effort, the dedication and the sheer pleasure that results from their 90+ weekly community dance classes.

From the shiny faces of the mini classes who are simply happy to be there; to the mesmerising performances from Lothian Youth Dance Company; and a wonderful Inclusive Hip Hop set performed by young adults with special educational needs to a piece by Great Feats, who give creative opportunities to young people not in education, employment or training; the whole thing was simply brilliant.

The performers were thrilled, the audience of family and friends were loud and proud with their appreciation and applause, and the staff and volunteers who had made the whole show happen were delighted. It truly embodied the importance and pleasure of not just dance, but of creativity to Scotland’s children and young people.

Not only do these children and young adults show dedication to their weekly classes, they learn new skills, feel the adrenaline from that boost of movement and exercise, make new friends and build their resilience. As a life-long (amateur) ballerina myself, I know how these feelings combine, so to see this reflected back in the children’s faces was wonderful.

Creativity really does matter. It’s one of the lifelines running through our human condition, it encourages us to think differently, to come together, to examine our strengths and our frailties, to be inclusive.- Cate Nelson-Shaw

Yet, set against a backdrop of pressure on Scottish Government budgets coupled with declining income from the National Lottery, and the combined potential impact of these on future public funding for creativity and culture, it was also a moment to pause and reflect.

Reduced, or in some cases gone, would be the sense of community spirit, the benefits to health and wellbeing, the opportunities to give voices to those in marginalised communities, and the pleasure. In a way these are some of the more fortunate performers, living as they do within reach of Scotland’s National Centre for Dance with its terrific weekly programme of both paid and free classes - what about those in less fortunate communities, in more outlying areas of the country, those with additional needs that aren’t met? Where and how can they and others feel these same benefits if, as is possible later this month, resources for culture are diminished?

As a Board Member of Creative Scotland, I have the privilege and honour of being able to advocate and influence for a more favourable outcome. Sitting in the audience at Dancebase compelled me to put these words together, to share my passion for creativity and culture and encourage others to do the same.

Creativity really does matter. It’s one of the lifelines running through our human condition, it encourages us to think differently, to come together, to examine our strengths and our frailties, to be inclusive. Not just dance, any creative endeavour - from music to crafts, design to the moving image, literature to theatre and everything in between…so don’t walk, dance!

Cate Nelson-Shaw is a Board Member of Creative Scotland and Marketing Director at Remarkable.

We believe that Creativity Matters to Scotland; culturally, socially and economically.  Join us in sharing the story of the value that the arts, screen and creative industries deliver to all our lives. Use the hashtag #creativitymatters.