Letters / Robust dialogue required

‘I like dialogue. I like conversation. I like putting ideas out there and letting people respond to them.

In a Shetland News report dated 25/3/15, Graeme Howell revealed his vision for Shetland Arts, the organisation of which he was then newly in charge. He also argued that there should be a more robust approachin future when it came to examining what the organisation does.

After witnessing how this years AGM was conducted, one can only imagine he was being more than a little ironic. Last weeks event was without either dialogueor conversation.

Instead, it was simply a twenty minute monologue in which not even he – or those who asked questions in advance – had the opportunity to speak. To shield any organisation by forbidding any meaningful exchanges is hardly robust. In fact, it is precisely the opposite.

Yet there is much that requires robust dialogue. As someone who is both a writer and reader, I would like to ask questions about the future of Wordplay, an event which – with one or two exceptions – has been pallid and unadventurous throughout most of his years in charge, especially compared to all it was before.


What are the future plans for it? Is enough, too, being done to encourage an interest in books and reading in young people? Is there sufficient mingling of interests, as I have seen in other community book festivals in this country throughout recent years?

One can only hope too that in future, there is not the ludicrous league table which was used to provoke a dialoguea few years ago.

Literature, traditional and contemporary music, the visual arts, oral storytelling, theatre, dance and other features of artistic life can all complement and support one another.

The time is long overdue for Shetland Arts to recognise this and start both receiving and ‘putting a few ideas out thereand giving people the opportunity to respond to them. At present, they are not doing this in any real or meaningful way.

For all the financial difficulties that some anticipate affecting the world of the arts in the near future, there is still good reason to undertake this task for the benefit and welfare of the entire community.

Donald S Murray



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