"Add to this cruelly delicate organism the overpowering necessity to create, create, create - so that without the creating of music or poetry or books or buildings or something of meaning, his very breath is cut off from him. He must create, must pour out creation. By some strange, unknown, inward urgency he is not really alive unless he is creating."
Pearl S. Buck
About a year ago, when I decided to create my own professional reality, I envisioned whom I wanted to serve, what entities I wanted to support. The tag line evolved: "Serving organizations that promote health, education, social justice and the arts." "The arts" fell into place naturally at the end of the line -- coming last not because it was an afterthought, but because it was an obvious completion to a list of those elements that I see as key to the well-being of people, communities, and society overall. Health, education and social justice are basics that make us whole, the "food, shelter and clothing" of our stage of evolution. Creativity is integral to all of those, and in this time of Common Core thinking, we risk neglecting our Creative Core.
Creativity cannot be standardized. You cannot develop multiple choice test questions on creativity. There is no right or wrong to a person's poem, dance, musical composition, or painting. There is only the subjective reaction of the reader/listener/viewer. You cannot put rules around it, and there is nothing to memorize. Creativity can only be encouraged and grown, or it can be stifled.
Sure, we can judge whether a piece of music follows a certain chord progression, a poem follows prescribed rules of iambic pentameter, or a painting contains proper complementary colors. But creativity, by definition, exists to break such rules. Beethoven broke a long list of strictly adhered-to rules for classical music when he wrote his Third Symphony, received scathing criticism, and launched the Romantic period in Western classical music.
Imagine transferring these qualities to tackling our greatest challenges, bringing truly creative thinking to making health, education and social justice accessible to everyone, and to dealing with climate change. There is not much we can do about the greed and myopia of those in power. What we can do is change how we think, and open our minds to what we are told is impossible. What we are doing isn't working. Rather than sticking to the rules and continuing to do things because we've been led to believe nothing else is possible, we have to ask ourselves: What kind of society do we want? What kind of leadership to we want? Then reignite our creative core and build a new reality.
The Arts and Achievement in At-Risk Youth: Findings from Four Longitudinal Studies
An excellent report examines the academic and civic behavior outcomes of teenagers and young adults who have engaged deeply with the arts in or out of school.
Arts Blog: Top 10 Reasons to Support the Arts
Ammunition for arts advocates.
Rehabilitation Through The Arts
This is really worth the visit: a full-scale creative arts program operating in five men’s and women’s maximum- and medium-security correctional facilities in NY State, with theatre, dance, creative writing, voice and visual art. Using creative arts as a tool for social and cognitive transformation behind prison walls.
Yours in the struggle - Carla
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Carla is a dancer, writer, observer, spouse, sister, daughter, aunt, friend, expatriated New Yorker turned Maine-iac, and warrior for a saner world. For less interesting details, check her out on LinkedIn.