If, like me, you landed back into work last week - having spent the previous 6 weeks balancing children/running a business/keeping your creative spirit alive and your house in some semblance of order and, weirdly, absolutely loved it - then you may, like me, be feeling like the hols are truly over. And it's a bit sad. However, the arts may hold the answer to keeping the brilliant chaos and excitement of summer alive.
The wonder of how you fitted in 9-to-5 washing machine action, 5000 trips to the trampoline park in 'payment' for the kids entertaining themselves while you get that report/those funding bids/that spreadsheet finished, the wonderful seaside holiday and camping trips with family and friends, the gallery trip, the theatre trip, the festival trip, the story-making workshop, the circus event, and remembering (too late) that everyone else will also be buying new school uniform this week all seems like a distant memory already.
So I've come up 5 ways that I'm going to combat the 'Back to School Blues' by getting in on some arts action, and thought I'd share in case its helpful to you too.
1. Go to a festival, for free
Summer hols might be over but the Fest's haven't stopped. There are some magnificent, free outdoor arts events still on the horizon. I'm really excited to be going to Inside Out Dorset this year, which starts in a mere 5 days time on the 14th September. Top of my IOD 'must see' list are the brilliant Mandy and Ben from And Now, and their Wayfaring Project which has been unfolding over the last couple of years inspired by the present landscape and ancient routes of the Icknield Way, and will reach it's climax at the close of Inside Out, on the 22nd September. You can find out more about Inside Out Dorset here.
2. Book Tickets to see a Show
I never see enough work - ref above summertime work/life balancing act - but 'back to school' also means time without the kids to go and see work that I want to see, rather than (sometimes) compromising by going to shows and events that they might like too. So I've not only been researching what's on for grown ups but also been committing by buying the ticket and putting the date in my diary. Next show on my list is (Non) Verbal Bodies by brilliant aerialists Ziggy Slingsby and Laura Murphy. There are early bird tickets still available here too.
3. Learn a New Craft
As you might know I'm a crafts person by training and it's rare to get through a month without making 'something'. Whether that's making some seasonal decorations with the kids or a bigger project like building a pergola or making a dress. However, I'm yearning to get my fingers into some new crafty skills this Autumn and I've been swooning over Prema Arts Centre's always great selection of one-off and regular workshops: from Leather Book Binding, to ballet, to cheese making. The choice here is immense.
4. Visit the Library
...but not necessarily to borrow a book! Gloucestershire Library Service is pioneering a fantastic project called Art of Libraries which is testing whether libraries in the county could become new 'cultural hubs', particularly for young people and families, introducing them to arts and culture from a young age. The arts programming in Dursley, Tewkesbury, Coleford, Gloucester, Moreton in Marsh, and Matson Libraries continues to inspire and I'm perhaps unsurprisingly chuffed that Can't Sit Still's Plink & Boo will be shown over three days in October at Matson and Gloucester Library. You can buy the very affordable £3 ticket for you and your 2-5 year olds here.
5. Watch Something that you Wouldn't Usually....
I was inspired by Strike A Light's Artistic Director, Sarah Blowers, inviting her audience to 'go and see something you wouldn't usually watch' at the last Festival and decided to rise to her challenge during the next Festival which starts on the 10th October. I'm still debating whether it will be the interactive Foreign Radical by Theatre Conspiracy in which "thirty participants are invited into an intriguing theatrical game world, exploring security, profiling, freedom of expression and privacy in the age of cyber-surveillance", or I Infinite by Tom Dale Company which explores the boundaries between the artificial and the real, the digital and the organic, worlds through an intimate dance performance. What I do know is that Strike A Light's confident programming will challenge me to think differently and open my eyes to something new. I'll let you know what I think.... You can see what's on at Strike A Light this season here.