Upbeat Arts – Meet the Participants

Since 2015, State Library of Queensland has partnered with Upbeat Arts (formerly School of Hard Knocks) to host the Word on the Street creative writing program. The group meets weekly at The Edge Mezzanine, since late March the group has been meeting via Zoom due to COVID-19 restrictions. 

Word on the Street is a creative writing course that helps participants find their voice on the page. Upbeat Arts delivers tailored arts and cultural programs, for artists and educators to work with marginalised communities, promoting social inclusion, positive mental health and overall wellbeing.

Author: Sarah Kay Styles

Sarah tells us that she has an adventurous soul. She says that “Since chronic illness keeps me largely at home and I can’t travel, I explore humanity and seek to help people strengthen the relationship with themselves which is most important and connect with others. I also delight in eloquent speech. It’s beautiful and excites my senses.” Sarah joined the Word on the Street program in 2020. The pandemic has given her a chance to join groups she couldn’t physically attend before. She loves it and gets excited about what the different exercises open up each week. Sarah explains that she’s always wanted to write a book and now she sees that she can.
Now that she has NDIS (National Disability Insurance Scheme), she is fulfilling a childhood dream of writing and touring a musical. She’d given up on the idea of having a life. She’s only ever written music. Now she must write the story for the musical to give the script writer and there’s a tight deadline for that. “Basically, I belong on stage and creating my own show was the only way it would happen”. This is a selection from the musical.

Unknowns Becoming Known

What do you do when it’s hard to see reality after what seems a lifetime of unknowns? How do people break through the untrustworthy perceptions incubating from infancy? Especially when they’re all you’ve ever known. There seemed only one option for me. Looking into my loved one’s faces. Searching their eyes for some truth and security. I knew I had to start understanding what’s behind my own eyes. Be secure within myself whoever that may be. Trust that that is good. It was settled and I was ready. I flew interstate and for the first time had to solely rely on myself. My support network could only support from afar. Now is the time to find out what I am made of and what to do with it. I have no idea. That’s ok. Living moment to moment is all that’s possible for a while. I’m cool with that. We figured a year away on my own in a different environment would be necessary and that’s looking realistic. When I first arrived, I had no job. Just some clothing. Lost. So the first morning I lay in bed. Decided not to think and just watch the previous day’s events unfold in my mind like a movie. Observing it all objectively. Interesting the details that become noticeable about yourself and the other person. The first of many eye-opening experiences that would provide the ability to reach internal stability and freedom.

Thank you, Sarah, for sharing your story and writing. From us here at State Library – we miss seeing Upbeat Arts participants and look forward to when we can see you again at State Library in the future.


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Well done Sarah ! So glad you’re enjoying Upbeat Arts 🎭