BLOG: Fantastical Creatives and Where to Find Them

11 April 2019

BLOG: Fantastical Creatives and Where to Find Them

By Eileen Atkins, CBNE Area Manager

At Culture Bridge North East we are very privileged that we get to meet and support so many amazing cultural organisations of all sizes. The thing that stands out the most for me is that the most innovative, passionate and creative practice, the stuff that will really stick in memories and develop life-long skills and interests, can spring from anywhere.

The small two-person arts collective passionate about getting out into schools, stretching themselves to take on innovative projects in new directions, finding ways to make it work, can be just as impactful as a larger venue-based organisation. It’s not necessarily better, but it’s often different, and that adds to the diversity of ways to access arts and culture and develops skills and interests across art forms which is great for everyone.

It is not the easiest path by any means, and it often requires a good amount of grit and stamina to manage the knock-backs and compromises, the project-to-project work, and short term nature of funding. I think children and young people (and all of us actually) can learn a lot from creative practitioners and small collectives and businesses in terms of their ‘real world’ skills and attitudes. Setting up your own business, sourcing external funding, building up portfolios of clients and work, getting an idea from imagination into reality, and developing grass-roots or home grown enterprises by following a passion.

The World Economic Forum recently published an article citing creativity as a fundamental requirement for today’s businesses:

“While many organisations have taken steps to enhance the creativity of their teams, the logical next step will be recruiting, partnering with, and investing in the “Olympic athletes” of creativity: artists.” (Verkerke & Callanan, 2018, The World Economic Forum).

It occurs to me that this stretches beyond the need to maintain and grow arts education experiences in and outside of school so we nurture the next generation of creative thinkers. If we really want to inspire that passion and drive within children and young people around creativity, and develop their cognitive diversity, which will be such a valuable commodity to businesses, we shouldn’t undervalue the importance of the opportunities to meet, learn from and work with creative professionals – the Olympic athletes of creativity.

A wider recognition that the opportunity to work alongside and learn from ‘Creatives’ expands cognitive diversity is great, and further business related articles will hopefully add more weight to what many of us know already about the importance of creative thinking within any workplace. I wish I could bottle up the passion, commitment, creativity and relentless determination of many of the smaller organisations and clusters of practitioners I have met through my work to share how they squeeze every single precious grain of funding, support, contacts and opportunities they may get into amazing outcomes for children and young people.

So, to paraphrase an overly quoted message from Steve Jobs, here's to the ones who see things differently. All the creatives who work tirelessly to follow their passions, develop their skills, see their ideas come to life, and share it with the rest of us. More of that please, and more opportunities for our children and young people to work alongside them and learn from them.