Story Submitted by Deb Kelley

Having the creative arts in my life has been a gift. Writing plays, stories, poems, and lyrics, directing, producing plays, acting on stage, drawing, singing, and photography – these are as much a part of me as breathing. When I first started writing in elementary and middle school, it was an outlet. My dad is a writer and inspired in me the love of the written word. In high school, it was an escape. Being the editor-in-chief of the school paper and a member of the school magazine, being in drama class, and being asked to write a play for production in the class got me through a lousy high school experience and gave me my first taste of playwriting. Being the youngest reporter correspondent for the Tampa Tribune at 17 gave me the confidence to follow my writing dreams to college and beyond.

It is 31 years later, and I still am passionate about theatre and writing. I have drama masks, a plume, and “I bleed ink” tattooed on my right arm. I always say, “if cut, I’d bleed ink” because I can’t imagine my life without theatre and creative writing, especially playwriting. I can’t fathom young people today, particularly during the pandemic, having the threat of removing the creative arts from their curriculum looming over their heads. For many kids, chorus, band, art, and theatre class are the only safe spaces they have to be truly themselves. The creative arts provide a nonjudgmental, lovingly dysfunctional second family, especially in theatre. As the many darkened theatres during the pandemic have proved, people don’t have that fun, exhilarating release without the creative arts. They lack that escape into make-believe that makes the stresses we deal with every day bearable. Like the meme says, earth without art is just eh.