Cultural Playing Field

Redefining creative expression by Robin Simpson
October 8, 2010, 4:37 pm
Filed under: meetings | Tags: , , , ,

On Friday I was in Glasgow for the Mission Models Money event ‘Towards an Ecological View of Creative Vitality’. This was a seminar to consider how MMM might develop an action research project in Glasgow and Perth & Kinross which would aim to define a broader and more inclusive definition of creative and cultural expression. Alan Brown, an American researcher and management consultant in the nonprofit arts industry, asked us how you would know whether your community is creatively vital. He explained that when people are asked whether they take part in the arts or cultural activity they tend to say that they don’t do anything whereas when people are asked if they do anything creative almost everyone can cite something. Cultural policy and the arts world only seems to value specific artforms, ignoring other forms of creative expression such as cooking, gardening, designing attractive living spaces or writing letters. Alan described a framework of five modes of creative participation (inventive, interpretive, curatorial, observational and ambient). He was concerned that arts organisations have a very limited interest in gaining an overview of the cultural ecosystem, typically focussing on their own funding rather than seeing their interdependence on other parts of the sector, including the voluntary arts. Claire Cooper from MMM described the planned action research project which will attempt to answer the question “how can developing a broader and more inclusive definition of creative expression evolve our world view of what constitutes a healthy arts and cultural ecology”. It was a fascinating, and fiercely intellectual debate and it was great to see officers from Creative Scotland, local authorities and audience development agencies stressing the value and importance of all forms of arts participation and the role of the amateur arts in healthy and creative communities.

Robin Simpson.



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