This week Fiona Lindsay returns from Dubai to share her views on storytelling and the arts in a digital age...


Last week I had one arm in the sun (when time allowed) and the rest of me in the temperate controlled climate of various large rooms at the Intercontinental Hotel, Festival City, Dubai, where I was interviewing guest authors of the 7th Emirates Airline Festival of Literature. It never feels like work. 

Encouraging people to share their stories - both fact and fiction - is a privilege; one that constantly reminds me of the wonderful messiness of being human. Cloud Atlas author David Mitchell described his thinking as a compost heap of ideas and Joanna Trollope held her head high when talking about the bruises of life. Illustrator David Tazzyman said that the computer has destroyed him as it reduces his mistakes. Not feeling the need to fix things was a common theme.

Stories help us to understand ourselves, the world we live in, and each other. It’s always comforting to be reminded that regardless of geography, creed and culture we are all more or less alike. One of the things that strikes me is that whilst the detail of our stories may be different, the common threads that bind them together are a weave of fear and coping with change. 

Most of the time the conversations I host are an examination of creativity: of making and shaping performance, books, music and art. All are proper jobs, often misunderstood and misrepresented. Those who contribute to the creative economy are attributed with having an abundance of soft skills. However, in communication currency, the word soft doesn’t immediately feel as if its stock is high. 

The word soft immediately ghettoises creativity and all who communicate through it. And for my money it’s so unwise to promote the grammar of coding, maths and science over and above that of theatre, music and dance. The Expressive Arts enable us to reach out, to make connections, to understand. The Expressive Arts help us to model the kind of world we want to live in – or should demand to live in. 

So in this week where we’re celebrating digital learning let’s shout out - go write the books, make the music, shoot the films, paint the art, perform the plays and then, after doing all of that and making a great old creative mess, find a beautiful way of expressing it all online. 

There’s a lot to learn.