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Farewell Interview with Mags, co|Create Dev Worker

We are very sad to be losing our lovely co|Create Development Worker, Mags Maxwell, as she heads off on adventures new. We would like to express our thanks publicly to her here for all her hard work and smiles over the years – Mags you will be missed!
Here Mags tells us about how she has found working at Creativity Works:

When did you start working for Creativity Works?

I started working for Creativity Works (CW) over 8 years ago – back in the days when we were called nesa (North East Somerset Arts). At that time I was employed to help co-ordinate a community festival called ‘art|works’. It grew and developed over the years from a relatively small one day affair into a full blown ten day festival with a community steering group leading and running delivery. I think it really epitomised what Creativity Works is so good at: recognising the power of creativity in us all, giving support and encouragement to generate the right conditions for growth and development. Providing supportive and supported socially engaged arts on a community level to deliver meaningful art that can and did make a difference. It was within this role that I worked on our then artist in residence programme Collaborate which in turn led to the co|Create programme: professional development for artists and creatives in socially engaged arts practice.

What does a typical day look like for Mags at Creativity Works?

Genuinely there is no such thing as a typical day within Creativity Works. And that’s what’s so good about working within a creative environment. Like a lot of artists I’m not someone who enjoys a rigid routine framework. And although I had seminars and workshops to deliver, the nature of this allowed a great deal of creative variety. I think the overriding element of most work within Creativity Works is that like socially engaged arts practice, it is creative relationship based – working with people in an engaged process-led way is something I really enjoy.

What have you most enjoyed working in the role of co|Create development worker?

In all my roles within Creativity Works – whether it was organising our 30 year party or co-ordinating our mentoring programme, or even moving a garden shed to be part of an installation within the Keynsham Music Festival was really the opportunity to develop my personal understanding of socially engaged arts practice. Especially within the co|Create role: being focused on continued professional development – for artists and consequently as a great bi product for myself – it’s really a great job! Constantly learning, developing and hopefully then putting into practice new understanding. I felt it a privilege to be able to look into a pertinent question within the socially engaged arts arena, to honestly explore it, and to share and disseminate that learning. Although I must say learning and professional development within the socially engaged arts arena is an evolutionary process. One that doesn’t stay still for long and needs to be fed and nourished continually. It’s a hungry beast!

What have you found most challenging about working at Creativity Works?

What did I find most challenging? If I’m honest stepping away from Creativity Works has been the most challenging thing I’ve done in a long time… Because I really enjoy working within Creativity Works and with artists – yes it can be demanding – but also incredibly rewarding and thought provoking. And I think Creativity Works is a really interesting, compassionate organisation – and one with integrity too – a rare thing in this day and age. Plus as I was only part time – working sixteen hours a week – coming to work for me was often a delight: mixing both professionally and personally with my colleagues and apart from the hard work it was also fun! So the decision to leave was very complex and challenging. But I think it is very important to be open to the potential for creative change so I’m hopeful I’ve made the right decision.

What has been your biggest professional or personal achievement to date?

Working over time with Creativity Works has helped me so much both professionally and personally. It’s hard to pick out just one. Through various creative practices I’ve personally been involved with I’ve always known the personal value of engaging in the creative process. But now thanks to the co|Create programme I understand more deeply the true value of creativity.

On a professional level within my time at Creativity Works I saw the value of creativity in all our lives – in a contextual sense – from the personal, extending and spiraling out to communities and the wider cultural realm.

So perhaps the most significant thing I will take away from my time at Creativity Works is the unshakable belief in the creative process – and the desire to allow creative space within my life and that of my family.

So I guess now is the time to trust that creativity and the creative process does indeed work. And to say a heart felt THANK YOU to you all: my colleagues, artists, creatives and friends. Thank you Creativity Works, for the last eight years, they have been amazing!

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