On the Importance of Creativity

People forget how creative they are. So many times, I’ve heard colleagues say, “I’m not very creative. The creative people are the artists.” I don’t believe that for a second. I think that Arts Administrators are some of the most creative, resourceful people I’ve ever met and I believe that’s why we are all drawn to the work we do. It’s not just about being close to the creativity that makes Art, it’s about working in a field that honours that creativity and allows us to think and work creatively to facilitate it.

However, I don’t feel that this creativity is limited to those involved in the Arts, in either the artistic or the administrative aspects. In order to fulfill ourselves as human beings and in order for our societies to reach their full potential, we must engage with our inherent creativity. I have no proof that creativity is innate, but I’m sure that, to an extent, it very definitely is. The Arts are the most obviously creative activities of our civilization, but the Arts also serve the very important role of engaging people with their creativity and inspiring them to use that creativity in other facets of their lives. It is by this means that we progress as a society, that we develop flexibility of mind and open new doors. Thus, while the Arts are often the result of creative thought and activity, they are also the catalyst for it in the wider society.

One of the most interesting ways of exploring the Arts and creativity in a broader context that I have seen is the recent symposium in Pécs (pronounced “Pech”, with a hard “ch”), Hungary. At this symposium in one of Europe’s current Cultural Capitals, artists and mathematicians gathered to discover the artistic aspects of mathematics and the mathematical aspects of art. From what I understand, it has been a great success and an eye-opening experience for all who attended. And this isn’t the first time such a gathering has taken place. In 2009, a similar symposium was held at the Banff Centre for the Arts.

Mathematicians aren’t people we would normally assume to be creative and yet, a mathematician’s capacity for abstract, creative thought can be very similar to that of an artist. And we know that math is not the only discipline where this kind of creativity thrives. Creativity is inherent not only in academia, but can be used, as we know and as many a scholar has said, in every part of our existence.

So why are the Arts – the clearest outlet we have for creativity – still thought of by many as an “extra”, as something that isn’t essential to people’s lives? My theory is that it is because people have yet to connect with their own creativity – even us Arts Administrators, sometimes. I’m not sure how to solve that problem, but I do know that engaging people with the Arts through all of the innovative and creative things that our organizations do, including exhibitions, performances, pre-performance talks, student matinees and in-school presentations, artist in residence programs, and so on, is definitely the way we have to start.

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