"We all need to sing and dance, we all have stories to tell and theatre is our mirror."
These are the words of South Yunderup resident Maggie Wilde West, who has been inducted into the 2022 WA Women's Hall of Fame for her contributions to performing arts which span across over half-a-century.
After an already extensive career as a performer and director, Maggie founded Vocal Ensemble Voiceworks, a non-profit designed to provide an inclusive space for people with all abilities to follow their performance passion.
"I don't like the idea that the Arts is a pinnacle system, or that it's only for certain people or people who have gone to an institution - I think those are terrific, but performance doesn't belong exclusively to those people," Maggie said.
I don't like the idea that the Arts is a pinnacle system...
Since Voiceworks' inception in 2005, the group has accrued around 100 members - one of the largest community choirs on offer in WA.
Voiceworks Plus, a performing arts program for people with disabilities, has 30 members and Maggie said her performers bring in crowds of hundreds and have a dedicated following.
"With Voiceworks Plus, every year for about last seven years we've done carols in the park up in Perth.
"The first year we had a few mums and dads and that was it - last year we had 300 people turn up, and it was 40 degrees.
"You can't tell me that the community doesn't need or want the arts."
Maggie said her drive to promote the arts is inspired by other cultures, and their love for storytelling - something she said she wanted everyone to incorporate into their lives.
"I have always had a strong belief that all communities need to have access to performing arts and be able to tell their stories and see their stories on a stage.
"In a number of cultures including Samoan, Indigenous and African cultures, they are so in touch with their arts and performance."
When Maggie received the call about being recognised by the WA Women's Hall of Fame, she said she felt "a great honour".
"It took me by surprise - that's not just the humility streak," she laughed.
"What I think is exciting about it is that the Arts is being given credibility. It's a great honour for me and a lovely thing that I've stayed alive long enough to receive that honour."
Maggie said her ultimate goal was to open an accessible and inclusive performing arts centre, open 24 hours a day.
"I would like there to be a performing arts centre for everyone - I would be very keen to be involved in making that happen. I know it can be done.
"We have sold out pretty much every show. People want this - people want to go out to the theatre."
Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.