outlander, the benefits of an arts education, and sam heughan

Outlander Title

I adore the show Outlander and I have just spent more money than is possibly wise going down to Williamsburg and enjoying communing with like-minded Outlander fans…

Folks might think that the entire endeavor is silly, but the power of the pull for your fandom (whatever that might be) can be very strong and hard to resist.  Despite living less than 60 miles away from Williamsburg, I wasn’t sure I was up for joining in when I first heard about the Gathering. This, even though it was a wonderful event that benefited a great cause.

There would be no profits for the presenters, any profits from the fees and raffles and such were meant to boost Outlander star Sam Heughan’s favorite charity, Youth Theatre Arts Scotland.  I’m really glad I changed my mind about going. I had a good time.

The fact that the organizers would not profit from the fees and ticket sales to the benefit of such a good cause did a lot to help sway my change of heart. In school I took acting, dancing, art, writing and film classes, eventually ending up as a film major, so I know from personal experience that an arts education can be a valuable one, but so many times governments cut funding. Even back when I was in high school, arts education programs got cut because some politician thought that teaching kids to dance or sing or act or paint isn’t worthwhile. How wrong can those men are!

Personally, I have (only rarely) made a living in artistic pursuits,but just because I haven’t made a living in film or theatre doesn’t mean the education I had wasn’t worth having. To contribute in a collaborative endeavor, either in school or in the few paid jobs I’ve had, was fulfilling in a way that my non-artistic classes or jobs have ever rarely been.

As much as I love my current job, I know it is not common to truly feel part of something special in more mundane fields. Even in college, when we were putting on nothing more than ‘the school play’ or shooting a film for class that no one other than my professor would ever see, I felt that the part I took in that, no matter how minimal, was still important.

Taking arts classes, whether it’s acting or dance or painting, can be just plain fun, which is why kids want to take those in the first place. More importantly than that, however, is that it can be an important validation of a kid’s talents. Even if they’re not math- or science-related, getting affirmation like that can give a kid’s self esteem a boost that will pay dividends for a lifetime.

After a couple of decades working in non-artistic fields, I still find worth in what I learned about drawing, painting, film, acting and dancing. Frankly, it’s probably one of the reasons I love the Outlander series as much as I do. The books are wonderful, Diana has created a fantastic world filled with romance and adventure and hot guys in kilts, but the show is a nearly perfect adaptation of her work. Knowing what I do about film, acting, design, and writing has helped me appreciate the show on a much deeper, more fundamental level. I cannot imagine I would have felt this same way about the show had I spent my schooling years studying accounting.

No, my education didn’t have any direct benefit to me financially in the long term. At least, I never took up acting and I can’t remember the last time I stitched a costume or drew a picture, but writing is something I do all the time. While I haven’t written a novel or an award-winning movie, my arts education has helped me write better and far more effectively, even if the the usual recipients probably aren’t all that worried about whether my writing has any artistic merit. I work in a sort of a ‘complaint department’ for an Internet Service Provider and my writing either explains a process in internal documentation or could be a formal letter written in response to an official agency, like the FCC or the BBB. It’s stiff stuff, bland and boring, but it is writing and I wouldn’t have been able to do it as well as I can if I hadn’t had the benefit of my arts education.

I really feel strongly that kids who wish to study the arts should be assisted as much as is possible because they will find value in it their entire lives, even if that benefit comes in a way that is different from how they originally imagined it.

As for Sam Heughan, I really admire him. Not just for the near perfection of his outing as Jamie Fraser, the only real lack in him for the part is that he isn’t noticeably taller than Graham MacTavish (Jamie is taller than Dougal in the books), but mostly for his giving back, for pitching in to help out Youth Theatre Arts Scotland. He doesn’t have to support Theatre Arts education, he’s likely a busy man with the show and the odd movie he’s in. It is admirable that he’s working to support Youth Theatre Arts Scotland. Yeah, it’s a bit theatre-geeky, but it’s a truly nice thing he does.

He thanked us at the Williamsburg Gathering for helping out:

I must also say thanks to Sam for being the truly nice guy that he is, it is mostly because of his dedication to this organization that anyone thought to help in the first place.

The weekend was tons of fun. I’m sure everyone who went to the Gathering there would agree: it’s been a great pleasure helping the kids out, so thanks from Sam aren’t really needed for pitching in, but are still appreciated. It seems like a very worthwhile organization so I was only too glad to help.

Thanks to the lasses from Outlander Odysseys who helped organize things at Colonial Williamsburg and get such a great event going there. I hope I will be able to participate in future events.

– cindy


One thought on “outlander, the benefits of an arts education, and sam heughan

  1. Bravo, well put! My college degree was Communication with dual K-12 teaching certification in Speech and in Theater Arts. Although I went into corporate training, my arts background has augmented every part of my career. From presentations to writing job manuals, the skills I learned and the self confidence developed during that time have contributed to my successes. :=) I was also one of the “Heughan’s Heughligans” at the Outlander gathering in Williamsburg for much the same reasons you were! Thank you for sharing your thoughts.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s