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The One Hundred Percent Club

You've heard of Alcoholics Anonymous? Why not 'artists anonymous'? Chairman Kato, resident at Hackney Downs Studios, has set up a weekly group for creatives and the word is out...

What is the 100% Club in a nutshell?

The 100% Club is a community group for artists. It's a weekly meetup place for creative people to come and be together and share about the highs and lows of the creative life.

What made you think of the idea?

I was doing some research earlier this year about fellowships and community groups. I was struck by how simple measures such as sharing in a circle and communal meditation could produce such a beneficial effect for people. I've had the nagging feeling over the years that as a society we suffer from a widespread condition of disconnection; social media for example has its place but I think it obscures the truth of peoples' lives. I used to run around like a maniac too and these days with the privilege of living at my own pace I look around a lot more and see a lot of isolation, people going through the motions. And I think that particularly affects people who want to be creative.

There's a lot of poisonous, toxic myths about artistry that have created the image of the lone, suffering figure. Understandably that discourages people from pursuing their creativity. I reached a point where I felt it was time to bring people together, to provide a safe place for anyone with a creative desire to come and share with others. The benefit of such a group has been immediately obvious- from our first meeting our members have been very relieved to find that they aren't the only ones going through fear and uncertainty, and that there are universal themes to the creative journey (I really hate the word journey but can't think of a better one).

Why '100%'?

I dunno, it just popped into my head one day. Maybe it implies a certain determination. A certain willingness to grow, a certain resolve. Thought it sounded kind of catchy.

Who is it for?

It's for anyone anyone anyone who harbours any kind of creative desire. We are totally inclusive. It's not for me to decide who is creative, it's up to individuals to decide and empower themselves. We warmly welcome anyone on the creative spectrum, from full time artists to lawyers who doodle. There's too much bullshit surrounding notions of entitlement when it comes to creativity. The 100% Club inclusion policy reflects my passionate belief that art and creativity is the preserve of everyone.

Do you have to identify as 'an artist' to come along?

I know a couple of people have been hesitant about coming because of this, but again, this stuff isn't important. I identify myself broadly as an 'artist' but that's just a label. We have actors, musicians, painters, writers, all sorts of people at the 100% Club. For me the term 'artist' is all encompassing. My dad, for example, is adamant that he doesn't have a creative bone in his body but I see artistry in his cooking and his evocative turn of phrase. Don't think we will be seeing him at the 100% Club though, which is a shame because it would be hilarious.

Is it only for people who feel creatively 'blocked'?

Of course a lot of our members have struggles with their creativity and are working in various ways to unblock themselves, to get things moving again. It's great to see them come to the group every week and see how they are getting on, see the process taking place within them. It's also rewarding to see them getting benefit from what we provide. That's what it's all about.

But no, it's for anyone. It's a celebration of creativity and creative people. We are all dreamers at the end of the day, and all of us are working towards our ideals of artistry and personal fulfillment. I'm a full time artist myself but it's a constant process of learning and evaluating things. For me the group is just as valuable a facility as I think it is for people who are blocked.

Tell us a bit about you, the founder, your journey to this stage?

I was an Accident and Emergency doctor and artist until the beginning of last year, when I suddenly ended my career in medicine and took the biggest leap of my life. I had reached the point where I didn't know how, but I knew I wanted to be an artist and musician full time. It was a pretty transformative/terrifying/amazing process and somehow I got to where I wanted. I am currently finishing an Arts Council commission, doing painting and music and I lecture and teach about creativity. I feel extremely blessed to be in this position and felt I wanted to give something back, to counteract the prohibitive nonsense that people buy into about artists. We live in a society where people are subdued by fear. Fear dulls our imagination and our intelligence. Creativity provides a way of waking up from that, a way of finding something deeply fulfilling and everyone has the right to access it.

When & Where

The 100% Club runs every Wednesday night in the back of a lovely cafe called The Wash at 206, Well Street, Hackney. Doors open at 7 and we start the meeting at 7.30. For more info visit our website at the100percentclub.tumblr.com.

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