In cultural projects at The Black-E the engine which sets the projects in motion is the theme. But, in contrast to the MacGuffin, this theme is of absolute importance to everyone participating in the project.
If the theme, in a playscheme, is ‘potatoes’ then the artists and the youthful participants may be involved in creating and making potato songs and dances, potato prints, potato games, potato poems, cooking potatoes in various ways, and exploring the history of the potato in dramas and exhibitions.
A chosen theme may be - social / political (comedy) - social / scientific (sleep and dreaming) - material (wax) - procedural (chance) - natural phenomena (rainbows) - geographical (India) - personal (the life and thoughts of Virginia Woolf) - or artform specific (solo dancing / acappella singing). A theme may be chosen by the resident artists, by the youngsters in a playscheme, or by a commissioning body. The exploration of a theme may draw upon a range of art, crafts, and media (including the fine arts, the practical arts, the popular arts), as well as sporting and scientific contributions. A theme may be explored over weeks, months, or years.
But, whatever the theme, this focus draws the participants together into an extended family, and the works created into an extended family of works. The process itself is educational, and as important as the works created. Expected and unexpected connections are made, socially and artistically. Innovations and surprising partnerships often emerge - and all explorations of themes turn out to be historical and political as well as cultural and artistic.
Communities are held together by common interests. Cultural projects at The Black-E are held together by common themes.