The importance of The Arts


"The gift of being human is that we have deep creative resources and from these we cancontinuously transform our lives if we choose. Whether you aim to change the whole world or the world within you, the limits are set as much by your imagination as by your current circumstances. This has been true for all people since the beginnings of human history."   - Sir Ken Robinson

As you've probably gathered I am a huge fan of Sir Ken Robinson. He is a recognised leader in the development of creativity, innovation and human potential.  He advises governments, corporations, education systems, and some of the leading cultural organizations. He understands the importance of The Arts in education and peoples lives which is an issue very close to my heart.  He believes that in The Arts we can focus on the qualities of our human experience and what it is to be a human being in vision, in sound, in movement and in words.

Theatres, galleries and other arts organisations are feeling the squeeze from government funding cuts. In the midst of austerity-driven cuts to UK local council budgets, the Local Government Association (LGA) recently said that while cutting arts budgets is understandable under the current circumstances, it may not be the right thing to do. It has been proven that investing in the arts can generate growth and create jobs. It says that for every £1 invested in the arts another £4 is generated. Investment in the arts can deliver an impressive rate of return. However, I think more importantly, the arts bring joy and a calming cohesiveness to communities. Without the arts life would be pretty boring!

The Arts ..........promotes diversity of culture
The Arts...........encourages expression
The to improve social well being
The Arts...........start a dialogue
The Arts...........brings people together
The Arts...........entertain and brings joy to communities
The Arts...........improves and strengthen communities
The Arts...........drives economic development

At the new St James Theatre in Victoria (where I'm an ambassador) they have created a new paradigm for The Arts and Business for the 21st century. They are setting a grand example of how Arts and Business can work together to create an economically successful, powerful and effective coalition in changing the face of Victoria with the local developers Land Securities.

A theatre, cinema, museum or festival draws visitors who do not simply spend money on their ticket or entrance fee, but also buy meals in local restaurants, go to local shops, or perhaps stay in hotels as part of their visit. These people may never have visited that location without the pull of its cultural attractions. The St. James Theatre is positioned in the heart of the Land Securities development scheme - creating a whole new Victoria. This is living proof how The Arts and business can work together and create a dynamic that works creatively and economically!

The Arts are a cultural expression of society. The Arts are so important to the human spirit and soul. People get closer to reaching their full potential when they can express themselves through The Arts. The Arts make the world a better place to live. That's why they are so important in education too! Please support your local arts communities wherever you can by going to all the incredible entertainment they produce and spread the word!

'Imagination is everything. It is the preview of life's coming attractions"  -  Albert Einstein

(PS - Talking of fantastic creativity - please go and see the film 'Behind the Candelabra' about Liberace starring Michael Douglas and Matt Damon. I was fortunate to go to a small Bafta screening last week with Michael Douglas - the man himself. He and the film are superb! Rob Lowe as the plastic surgeon is hilarious. I highly recommend it - to be released on June 7th.)

Image courtesy of Imaginative Creative Therapies

Words that Burn

This week I've been researching and writing 2 speeches and a separate article for a business magazine. I visited the London Library  in St. James Square SW1 and I'm considering becoming a member - it truly is a brilliant and inspiring library. I've always found that if something is troubling me and I write it down I can bring order to the situation and I am able to look at the it more rationally. The power of words....... My blog this week is about the power of words.  I was invited by Lord Saatchi to his Friends and Family opening night of his late wife Josephine Hart's Poetry Week at the Arts Theatre. Over five nights the work of some of the world's greatest poets were celebrated and brought alive with the help of Josephine's words and the poems themselves, read aloud by some of the finest actors. This first night were poems by TS Eliot read by Edward Fox and Harriet Walter. The evening was a real treat.  There was a fantastic audience of family and friends too from Edna O'Brien, Bob Geldorf, Sir Simon Jenkins, Sabrina Guinness, Lord Gowrie, etc etc. I have The Josephine Hart Poetry App on my iPad which I highly recommend too. However there is nothing quite like seeing poetry performed at this level.

St James Theatre Bully Boy
St James Theatre Bully Boy

Last Wednesday (October 10th) was World Mental Health Day and I was invited to the charity performance of the play 'Bully Boy' at the St James Theatre in collaboration with Combat Stress. There was a lively Q&A session afterwards with the play's writer Sandi Toksvig, the cast - Anthony Andrews and Joshua Miles, director Patrick Sandford and Commodore Andrew Cameron who is the Chief Executive of Combat Stress.

The play is about a young squaddie in Iraq who is court-marshalled for his role in the death of an 8 year old Arab boy, it's a question of class and rank when his defending officer is a Falklands War veteran. Anthony Andrews is brilliant as the war veteran and Joshua Miles as the young squaddie - his first play - is just excellent. I have never seen a play with a continuous standing ovation before - it is seriously a must see. The energy, the stress the emotion all powerfully portrayed. The Q&A were good too and then we had drinks with everyone afterwards downstairs in the studio bar.

The play highlights a very neglected area of PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder) soldiers returning from war with little help for them to integrate back into society. So as Sandi said its either The Priory or prison. The soldiers need our support and understanding - that's where Combat Stress comes in but they have had cuts implemented............Sandi's script is very powerful.

My guest was Hugh Lillingston, a Master Practitioner and Trainer of NLP and Hypnosis and a teacher of Huna who is one of the practitioners of the warrior programme a charity which has helped many ex-soldiers get their lives back on track. I met Hugh and his wife Catherine through Tracy Worcester.

My next event was a dinner with the entrepreneur, Luke Johnson (Risk Capital Partners) at CSFI (Centre for Study of Financial Innovation) - a financial think-tank in London and New York. I've been asked to produce a TV Channel for Entrepreneurs - so it seems in the same week appropriate that I go to a dinner with one of the UK's most high profile entrepreneurs. Luke was great despite us exhausting him with questions - he answered all of them - no complaints - mind you the food was delicious so I think that may have helped sustain us all.

"Poetry is thoughts that breathe and words that burn" - Thomas Gray.



My blog this week I realized was all about being 'fearless'.  I love and applaud people who are prepared to stick their neck out and start their own 'thing' - be it a business, a book, a theatre production, a film or indeed a blog! It requires true courage and strength of character - to dig deep - your 'thing' will reveal bits of who you are whether you like it or not. So I would encourage readers to find a career that is about the essence of who you are - don't fear being your authentic self and find your true passion! That way it won't even feel like work.  I was lucky to have landed on my feet at an early age but that's another story - next weeks blog is about attracting luck! Being involved with the St. James Theatre I like to check out the competition.  I was invited by my friend Olivia to Home House evening at Regents Park Theatre of 'Midsummer Nights Dream' last week. This is indeed a fearless production - a fantastically powerful modern day version of this Shakespeare comedy with chavs and hoodies at the heart of a gypsy community - I loved it!  Original music, fantastic set, great acting. Just as a side - Lady Lucy French was Head of Development at Regents Park Theatre before she became Director of Development at the St. James Theatre.

I also saw Joe Wrights film of 'Anna Karenina' at Bafta on Saturday. Again talking of fearless this is a brave theatrical production that worked for me! I loved it - the surprise is Jude Law playing the rather dull cuckolded husband.

Yet more celebratory parties of the opening of St. James Theatre this week sponsored by Laurent Perrier - good fun was had by all and a fantastic turnout! Can't wait for the September 18th when we open with Anthony Andrews in Bully Boy written by the wonderful Sandi Toksvig...........


Life is an Epic Production

I started 'Life is an epic production....." because one of the biggest buzzes I got from producing and running my own production company was finding and developing talent - be it a director, producer or acting talent. I have also mentored many friends children over the years who have worked for me in their school holidays. It's wonderful to see people grow and embrace their success. It's my way of giving back all those people who helped me along the way when I first started. Talking of talent - we had one of our first parties at St. James Theatre this week on 5th September and Camilla Kerslake sang for all our guests from this fabulous Italian marble staircase and then down in the studio. She is the girl who Gary Barlow first signed to his new label 'Future Records' in 2009. She has since performed as Cosette in Les Miserables. What a voice - what a talent!

The staircase in the foyer from where Camilla sang is a sculptured staircase designed by international award winning artist and designer, Mark Humphrey. Crafted in Pietra Santa, by Pocelli Marmi, where Michelangelo carved David. The work of the staircase celebrates the best of British design alongside Italian craftsmanship! It's beautiful!.


The party was pretty good too - a fantastic turnout of people from Lord Archer to Tracy Worcester to His Excellency Khaled Al-Duwaisan Kuwaiti Ambassador to London etc. Thank you for a wonderful evening team!