This Thursday I attended a conference at The Tullie House Museum in Carlisle called “The Art of Participation”. Run by Prism Arts this day was concerned with exploring ways of creating truly participative community art. It wasn’t just painting. There were workshops in creative writing, music making and film and animation. As an exhibiting artist in the Outside In north west regional show, I was invited to talk to people up in the gallery space during lunch. Talking with other artists/interested parties helped me shape my view of how important art is to my emotional/mental/physical/spiritual welfare. It seems a truism when said like that – but so much effort has to be put into convincing the powers that be of the value of art and the continuing need for investment in it at a time of depression and stagnation. We will need to be imaginative not only in producing your own work, but of thinking of ways to encourage others to be creative, and getting work out into the world. Its an exciting, if scary prospect but I’m heartened by the thought that radical art often flourishes at times of challenge, and based on the enthusiasm and energy of folk at the conference, we’re definitely up for it.