Now that the big build up has reached its climax and nothing too alarming has happened, one can start looking forward to limbering up for business as usual. 2019 looks like it is going to be a year of many social changes, as 2018 has ushered in opportunities for some of us to reflect on ways of reframing our mindsets.
Those of us in the song and dance business might think there are reasons to be cheerful, especially since there have been moves to introduce more diversity into the management of arts organisations. It is reassuring to know that people who share some of our aspirations are now in positions of influence, but they still have to engage in dialogues with the dedicated arts audiences out there, in a highly competitive arena.
Can we look forward to times when the aesthetics of folks from minority ethnic backgrounds shall gain more access to the mainstream cultural discourse? The jury is still out in this regard. On our personal journeys as artists, some of us will still be happy to fit into narratives imagined and told by those who don’t know much about our experiences. It could be said that being seen and heard presenting images of assimilation are tantamount to selling the sizzle and not the steak.
Those with an optimistic outlook might see these developments as ways of building bridges with mainstream audiences. Somewhere along the line, these audiences shall be ready to engage on a heart to heart level with artists from minority backgrounds, it is hoped.
On the other hand, there is the possibility that the willingness to listen and empathise might only go so far. Some of us need to stand up for the more exposed and vulnerable ways and means of expressing our hopes, fears and dreams in the public arena. This is the way that stronger bridges of communication and understanding can be built between diverse sectors of the wider community in the long run.