The power of everyday creativity: Catalysing a creative revolution
On 15 June, 64 Million Artists published its Arts Council England commissioned report into Everyday Creativity. We were looking at how we could move from a culture owned and created by a few, and consumed by the few more, to a culture created by, with and for everyone. Our interest is in rebalancing the way we value culture to be more inclusive, more representative and more accessible, not by saying ‘come and do what we think is good or excellent,’ but by genuinely valuing the interests, skills and talent of everyone in the UK, and believing we all have something to contribute to our culture.
Just over a week later this ambition felt even more relevant. The huge divide opening up in the UK post-Brexit was and is a significant reflection on the impact of people feeling undervalued, not heard, and like they are not active participants in society. Whatever you think of the result, it shows that the cultural divisions in our country are only becoming greater.
Whilst arts and culture might not be at the heart of causing this division, we cannot deny our role in propagating it, and missing opportunities to begin to heal deep rifts. When we consistently see a particular kind of person on TV, in films, in politics, making art on our stages and streets, we think ‘these are the people that own culture, we are the people that just consume it.’ Consumers, in this context, are then limited in their choice. If instead we start to think of people as participants in culture, as active creators. What could culture look like then? By encouraging acts of everyday creativity we have shown that people are reminded of their power to create the world that is important to them. It encourages people to take risks, to create dialogue with those that live around them, to have their voices heard, to think about the world differently.
Culture is more than just the arts. It is the way we are together, the way we share and communicate, the way we understand, the way we process, the way we celebrate together. It is who we are. Art is a reflection of that. So by denying some people the opportunity to think of themselves as creative, by dividing people up into the talented and the untalented, the creators and the consumers, the people who can and the people who can’t, we inevitably create fractured communities. Culture and creativity at the heart of communities can help to repair this, but only if it is not owned and imposed by a few.
There are many great people already working in a different way. Our friends at Fun Palaces and Voluntary Arts are at the forefront of supporting a different kind of culture to emerge. This blog by David Jubb of Battersea Arts Centre echoes many of our sentiments here and the recent provocation by Nesta’s Hasan Bakhshi and Stuart Cunningham gives some further ways that we can start to re-imagine how culture is valued and measured.
We are at the beginning of a different way of approaching this, and it is important that we are bold in doing so. Culture is a way of co-creating the future, and, in the current climate in Britain, it feels more crucial now than ever.