by Ann Rickard
IT IS easy to think of the phrase 'cultural' as daunting. We tend to associate it with grand European opera productions, symphony orchestras playing in elegant halls, or extravagant live theatre in big cities.
But cultural events are important to a community no matter how small or regional the town.
Renowned Australian playwright, David Williamson, who lives on the Sunshine Coast and founded Noosa Alive! (formerly The Noosa Long Weekend) believes seniors can play a vital role in the development of culture in a community and at the same time gain enormous personal rewards.
"I'm continually surprised by how many people I meet (on the Coast) who have had very distinguished careers in the creative industries, business and Government," he said.
"Noosa Alive! has been blessed to be able to draw on the expertise of people who have had stellar careers, such as Ian Mackellar, Johanne Wright, Ian Wright, John Keily and Jenny Westand, all of the present committee, Rowland Hill, Simon Gamble, Karen Mitchell, Leonie Palmer, Michael Gloster, David Thomas, Kristin Williamson, and many others."
While that's an impressive line-up of names, Mr Williamson is adamant you should not be put off joining in to help progress culture on the Coast just because you don't think you have qualifications. Far from it He says there are many ways every senior (who wants to) can become involved.
"For those so inclined and qualified there is always room to help on the (Noosa Alive!) committee or if that's not your thing, then as a volunteer," he said. "Without the willing and helpful army of volunteers to help out, the festival couldn't possibly be staged."
Some of the many ways Mr. Williamson has seen seniors contribute, and in return find great personal reward, is through panel discussions, offering a variety of lively views at question time - and he says there is no need to be shy or even intimidated by the thought of joining in and adding to the cultural success.
"The word cultural is a bit off-putting to some," he said. "It shouldn't be. Cultural is just a way of describing something exciting that's sprung from the minds of our most interesting creators, composers, and performers, artists and chefs. Why not get a kick out of the magic of creative experiences? Life isn't all about shopping and housework, vital though they may be. There is an absolute delight in the very best creative works that can transport us beyond our everyday cares and worries and take us to new places of the imagination. Good art and entertainment is exhilarating in a way few other activities can offer."
For seniors who may live alone or are new to a region, getting involved is a certain way to combat isolation. A soft beginning for the shy or anyone who has not before been involved in their community is recommended by Mr. Williamson.
"Start book clubs," he said. "Join book clubs. Join your local community theatre. If you don't fancy treading the boards there's lots of other work such as set construction and front-of-house and serving at the bar. Join the Film Society for films a little more challenging than the normal fare. Join the Music Society and save plane fares to the capital cities to hear our finest classical musicians. Join an arts group. Paint, quilt, decorate, sculpt, learn pottery. More communal life in regional towns is important and it is so enriching for seniors. Join cultural, artistic or environmental groups. Friendships enrich and prolong life."