Why I’m running the marathon for Artsadmin…
Artsadmin producer, Cat Harrison, explains why she is running the London Marathon for the arts charity she works for.
It’s probably three years ago now since I met this doctor in a bar. It was one of those things where we were both waiting for tardy friends and he got talking about how he got into medicine, how he had finally chosen on his specialist area and how he now spent his days saving people’s lives doing the most complicated procedures known to man… I mean this guy turned out to be a brain surgeon. Literally.
And then that awkward moment came when he turned to me and said “and what is it you do?” And I looked down at my feet and got a little shuffly because I don’t save people’s lives, I didn’t study for decades at university, I don’t even do anything that complicated really.
“Oh… I work in the Arts” I mumbled, “I mean I like to think I make performance, but my day job is actually as a producer”.
And I’ll never forget the look on this guy’s face as he said “Oh my god that’s the most amazing thing ever! You save people’s souls!”
And he launched into this passionate, earnest, ever-so-slightly OTT speech about how he could never do what I do and think so laterally and be so emotionally aware and so in it for the people.
“For the people as individuals” he emphasised, “not just a load of muscle and tissue you’ve seen in a textbook thousands of times. That’s mechanics”
And it stuck with me this conversation, because of course I like the idea of saving people’s souls, but it did hit the nail on the head of why I got into the Arts in the first place. Because of the way it reaches people, because it’s part of the vital stuff that makes life interesting and human and relevant to everyone no matter where you’re from or what you’re like.
I’m incredibly lucky to work for this brilliant charity called Artsadmin. I have for nearly seven years now. In brief, Artsadmin helps artists and puts on those performances that are a little on the parameters of the mainstream. In my time with them I’ve seen giant domino rallies takes over whole cities, local people singing their hearts out on a beach at sunrise, a classic car make people cry, sugar cubes turn into stars… each day brings a completely new set of surprises and challenges. Today I’m finding out whether the humidity of Glasgow Botanic Gardens will evaporate a collection of publicly donated water and tomorrow I’m stripping an old ambulance so it can be painted and turned into a specialist tour bus.
I did think twice about running the marathon for Artsadmin though. It didn’t seem the done thing somehow, running for the company I work for.
But I thought, if I worked for a ‘proper’ charity, people would expect me to raise money for it. Imagine if I worked for Oxfam or Shelter or MIND – it would be weird if I didn’t run the London Marathon and raise money for them, right? It seem really out of place. So what is it about this arts charity that I work for that makes it so weird?
And of course it’s nothing. Artsadmin is as valuable a charity as all those NGOs. We may not save people’s lives through medicine or rightful provisions, but we save people’s souls. We give people stuff to live for. Because what’s a person without an idea? Mechanics, and that’s all.