Art and Business. The power to create.. what? The RSA is, almost fundamentally, a place of debate.
We debate at lectures with speakers; we debate online with the media; but most of all, we debate amongst ourselves. Creativity in education, a debate in the South West. South West Fellows recently organised a debate in Plymouth focused on creativity in education, particularly in a time of austerity.
It links into the plethora of blogs coming out of the RSA around creativity, lead by Adam Lent’s blog Why is creativity the most important political concept of the 21st Century?. The debate was organised by Fellows in partnership with Fotonow, who create new opportunities in photography and facilitate socially motivated projects exploring visual culture across the South West of England. The turnout of about 50 Fellows and interested others, in the week before Christmas during a howling gale, showed what an important debate question this was, and many in the audience participated with questions and comments to make it a vibrant discussion event, based around taking ideas forward. (c) Fotonow Some of the key points made by the panel are listed below, fuller transcript can be viewed here. Creativity in community projects. Last night I braved the mountain that is the Angel underground escalator (and somewhat of a personal nemesis) to head on to the City University’s ‘Interdisciplinary Centre for Creativity in Professional Practice’ seminar on creative catalysts.
Their speaker was an Icelandic artist/architect by the name of Illugi Eysteinsson and his energetic presentation and style of communication made it much more of a two-way conversation than that of the traditional passive observer vs presenter. But what I wanted to share was some of the key ideas that Illugi proposed about approaches to managing creative community projects gleaned from his 17 years of working in community arts settings.
Illugi advocated four considered steps: 1. ‘a piecemeal approach’ that is to say slowly, slowly, softly, softly. 2. 3. 4. Comments. Bitcoin tells you everything you need to know about the human ‘power to create’ Here at the RSA, we’re getting very interested in what we call the ‘Power to Create’: the notion that by unleashing the desire of billions to turn their own, unique ideas into reality, we’ll all end up richer, solve some of our biggest problems and feel a lot more fulfilled along the way.
It occurred to me today that the fascinating saga of Bitcoin tells you a lot about the idea and, in particular, why the Power to Create notion can be so exciting, dangerous and bemusing simultaneously. So here’s a rapid fire tour of the idea by way of Bitcoin. 1. Great ideas can come from anyone, anywhere. By any measure, Bitcoin is an astonishing achievement. 2. Much public debate these days is what philosophers call “consequentialist”. Once Satoshi Nakamoto had got the idea for Bitcoin, I doubt anything could have stopped her, him or them making a reality of it.
We need a creativity revolution: four ideas to stir it up. How do you transform a nation into the most creative place on earth?
Or for that matter how do you transform a region, city or town? Why is creativity the most important political concept of the 21st Century? There is no concept more politically important today than creativity.
I’ll give four reasons why but first a definition. ‘Creative’ has narrow, broader and even broader connotations in English. It’s the last of these we should be most interested in. The narrow meaning immediately leads one to think of activities directly associated with the arts. The broader sense encompasses those activities associated with what Richard Florida calls the ‘creative class’. Finally there is the broadest meaning which implies an act that is unique to an individual’s own capacities or vision. So how can such a broad notion be so important? 1. Can you have too much creativity? Adam Lent’s rallying cry for creativity met with strong tacit approval from the echo-chamber, and rightly so.
What’s not to like? Creativity is a feel-good concept, tapping into to the value of human freedom, with pleasant undertones of productivity, individuality, and style. No sane person would therefore come out against creativity consciously and explicitly, which is why Adam suggests many vested interests in big business and government are clearly anti-creative in practice, but won’t admit to it in those terms. Creativity: the stuff of freedom. Adam Lent, head of the Action & Research Centre here at the RSA, recently wrote about the crucial role of creativity for the 21st century.
Of his four arguments, I want to elaborate on the first—on creativity as the realisation of freedom. Paraphrasing John Stuart Mill, Adam wrote that “taking the great historical gift of freedom in order to remain passive, ineffectual and conventional” is “horribly wasteful.” Among the values of this focus on creativity is its reminder of the responsibilities that freedom and self-governance place on us. “A deeper happiness has got to come from using our freedom to be creators as well as consumers”, Adam wrote. I contend that this applies not just to economic and cultural activity, but to freedom itself. This past December, UK audiences were spared one of those cookie-cutter free-speech ‘controversies’ that played out in the US.
People often seem to mistake ‘the right to free speech’ for ‘the right to have a TV show’. Creative solutions to climate change. When it comes to climate change, creativity is not optional.
To retain a resilient and livable planet, we need to do things differently, better, and quickly. In light of our competing commitments to energy security and fuel prices, that means rethinking our ends, our means, and our conception of ourselves. Despite my reservations about Adam’s attack on the political class and my concern about creativity being hollow, I have enjoyed thinking about what it might mean to link our new agenda on climate change with our emerging worldview.
A broader conceptual discussion about creativity is needed, but for now, with creativity understood as self-directed, pro-active and innovative activity, here are some thoughts on what ‘the power to create’ might mean for attempts to tackle climate change. Writ large, our current approach to climate change is passive rather than creative. 1) Frame the power to create as a solution to stealth denial What might that mean more tangibly?
Could a ‘creativity paradigm’ reshape businesses, consumers and make us greener? Carlota Perez has long been one of my favourite economists; not least because she is so disillusioned with the state of mainstream economics that she refuses to call herself an ‘economist’.
Unlike most of her colleagues, she predicted the 2008 Crash not through some complex modelling but by studying that most unfashionable of subjects – economic history. Perez’s analysis is complex but at its heart is the notion that economic change is driven by the emergence of new ways of doing business that have their origin in technological breakthroughs that offer major productivity gains.
18 Things Highly Creative People Do Differently. This list has been expanded into the new book, “Wired to Create: Unravelling the Mysteries of the Creative Mind,” by Carolyn Gregoire and Scott Barry Kaufman. Creativity works in mysterious and often paradoxical ways. Creative thinking is a stable, defining characteristic in some personalities, but it may also change based on situation and context.
Inspiration and ideas often arise seemingly out of nowhere and then fail to show up when we most need them, and creative thinking requires complex cognition yet is completely distinct from the thinking process. Neuroscience paints a complicated picture of creativity. As scientists now understand it, creativity is far more complex than the right-left brain distinction would have us think (the theory being that left brain = rational and analytical, right brain = creative and emotional). While there’s no “typical” creative type, there are some tell-tale characteristics and behaviors of highly creative people. They daydream. They “fail up.”