Loving the things I thought I’d hate…

the window of a cafe in Hong Kong - full of hanging things that can't be identified by me!“I was asked to name a place in the world I would least like to go to. I picked Hong Kong – the tall buildings, the congestion, the sheer number of people, the speed of everything. I went there first in October 2012 to take me out of my comfort zone, and to my complete surprise I fell in love with it. The skyscraping buildings I thought I’d hate, I adored. The bustle of humanity had so much to teach me. The people and the politics bumping along side by side were intriguing and beguiling in equal measure…”

This is the opening for a short blog I wrote for the British Council recently. I wanted to share it here too, as it touches on so many things that are going round and around for me just now.

I am constantly surprised by how many things I love that I assumed I would hate. Food, art, books, films, places, activities… things that I thought I really wouldn’t take to I keep finding enormous pleasure in. Conversely, things I have always liked I am becoming bored by, or even finding a dislike emerging (this mainly refers to salmon at the moment, once a fish I loved, and now increasingly dull and insipid in my opinion).

If this is true for me, is it true for any others? If so, is there any way we can harness this in the arts sector to help us push audiences to things they don’t automatically jump at? To help artists broaden out to form partnerships or stretch their practice into places they’ve never pushed towards before. This were both ways forwards mentioned recently at the Yorkshire Food for Thought (Creative Case) meals.

They also came up earlier this week when I was in Stirling working at the macroberts centre and in Edinburgh at the Scottish Poetry Library. In both places, I was working with people looking at what equalities really means, and unpacking words like welcome, prejudice and bias. We were looking at what makes us comfortable and want to engage, what makes us uneasy and how we can push past this to find something else.

Anyone know of any reports, research, projects or processes that link to this? Surely there must have been learning through the distant ‘New Audiences’ initiative? Why haven’t we cracked it yet?

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