Dear Jane, Ben, Ed, Simon, Anna, Eric and Zena,
I often think there’s something quite liberating in writing letters. I wonder whether our words lose value when sent electronically. Anyway, that’s just me thinking out loud. I wanted to write to you to properly thank you all for your time and effort in putting together Shake! as well as sharing a few of my own thoughts. As with everyday of that week in August, I left the Albany on Saturday feeling excited, inspired and full of so much warmth.
Art and politics have something in common which we don’t talk about so much. They unit people – I don’t mean just by bringing people under one banner. Eric said that music is all the same, when you forget its origins, and I agree and think similarly of political issues. Injustice is injustice no matter where it is being carried out or by who. But they also have this magical quality of creating friendships and heartfelt networks. I can’t quite put my finger on it. As far as I can see, the fusion of art an politics through Shake! introduced me not only to a group of lovely young people with who I bounce ideas off and buzz off their energy, but also with a group of people (only slightly) older than myself who never cease to amaze me. In creating new relationships and strengthening old ones, through Shake, I have been able to create an image of who I want to be in the future, and the change I want to bring about.
You did something awesome with Shake! You didn’t call the shots. I don’t even think you did what Jane called ‘power-sharing’. You handed over power. We were able to explore the arts and the issues and you were the hands that gently guided. You all shared your skills, ideas and experiences, and became a pool from which we could draw inspiration and motivation. Admittedly, I was wary of hierarchy and structure (the anarchist within me speaks!) but the calm and personal atmosphere helped me reconnect with words and ideas, and I will be eternally thankful.
I know you’ve said you won’t give up, but I’m going to say this anyway. Please please keep doing what you’ve been doing, so that in time people like myself can gather the courage to do the same, creating generations who aren’t afraid – afraid to be open and honest, and challenge the status quo. There’s currently debate over whether the arts are inferior to the sciences. Arts vs sciences has become everyday banter at Cambridge, it’s annoying. When on a serious level, it makes my stomach churn, that people consider my questioning of people, war and freedom any less worthy than questions about the human body, forces and electricity.
Like I said on Saturday night, Shake prevents apathy. I still get slightly shocked that whenever someone gets asked: ‘What is Shake?’ they don’t just respond with: ‘Shake is awesome!’ though Simon’s latest answer of ‘Shake is the future’ is pretty impressive too.
So much love and respect for you all,