My name’s Angela Linton.

So I have a community arts background and back, from Belfast and then I went to college and I did a community arts theatre degree. I’m ultimately interested in people (laughs) and umm people have an access to culture. What I do now is umm I work with youth music and we’re a funder umm of music projects and we’re really there umm to invest in organisations who are working with young people in what we would determine to be challenging circumstances. So again it’s still about getting to those young people that wouldn’t have the opportunity to make music in this instance umm if it wasn’t for the organisations that umm existed locally to them. Err so that’s been quite a theme through all the work that I have done.

The reality of how Spare Tyre influenced my life as a woman was really quite pivotal. I felt empowered and strengthened and respected… and it informed my choices going forward and the work that was going on and is still going on to this day because I’ll err infrequently see stuff but I do try and keep in touch with it everything. I think that the… the most fundamental type of work that’s really important erm I’m not a great advocate at in what I do now, or what I have done, the performance is an element it’s not the be all and end all for me. It’s the practice. It’s the engagement. It’s the impact that that’s had on the individual leve- individual journey, whatever that is, is really quite important. The other side of it is it’s not all wonderful. It’s not all, you know, life changing but it is a moment in time and it’s part of … someone’s journey.

Just one of those pivotal moments in my life where I saw the job advertised came for an interview and, for as fortune would have it, I was offered the job as administrator as it was at that point in time. It’s morphed into many different things as the organisation has as well. At that point in time it was working with young unemployed err people. There was lots of funding around for those sorts of projects at the time and I think it was… we were at the Riverside Studios and there was stuff just starting with the LGBT stuff which we know now again which was err territory that Spare Tyre were really at the front of and just the history of how this group of women had come about and then forged itself into an organisation that was just really quite inspiring to me.

So the projects with the young people, you know, hard hard work. Clair was incredible managing those but the issues and the stories that we that they were telling again so it’s all the storytelling people’s lived histories and then tapping into the issues that we were like really at the forefront for the young people was really quite empowering. It’s not always obvious or overt what the issues are and people aren’t always comfortable having that conversation and I think as well as I’m a great advocate for engaging in culture and that’s it. I enjoyed that, over and done with. I think it’s actually really really important the health and well being of people, individuals, and society as well and I think both those can sort of come together in a Spare Tyre project.

It’s the… it’s the accessible-ness of it, it’s the people that are involved in it in the first instance. There’s not some, they demystify it in the first instance so if you engage with an individual then you’re looking to have that conversation with them to say ‘who are you?’ ‘this is who I am’. So there’s this sharing that happens and you have to gain people’s trust erm for them to actually give you information. So, that engagement and the conversation allows people to trust you and then through trust you can experience stuff and you can push the boundaries and you can sort of take people on a journey with you and it’s a very nuanced … skill and Spare Tyre had it and have now with have it in a different way with Arti.

Through that personal individual skill that Arti and Clair and people like that have to say ‘it’s okay’ make people feel comfortable then the individual becomes part of a group and we know that becoming part of a group has so many benefits to the individual and the group.

I come from a segregated society and that didn’t sit well with me and it in fact doesn’t sit well with a lot of people in Northern Ireland. We were forced into a situation, people in my generation. So people are naturally curious and, you know, want to speak to each other. Sometimes you have to just facilitate that and again the issue of stereotypes and assuming that someone is like something because of what you understand their background to be. I think it’s really important for me to dig deeper than that and actually understand the stories and that therefore what you find is the common ground and to celebrate difference and to learn from that as well is really quite important.

Angela was our trustee from 1998 – 2006. She is the Chief Operating Officer (COO) for the National Foundation for Youth Music, an organisation providing music-making opportunities to children and young people.
Angela spoke to us about her background in community arts and the personal impact Spare Tyre had on her.