Creativity is often seen as the providence of left field less practical types. It’s always a fight trying to make people  accept creative solutions  as so many  peoplpe are resistant to change and say, ‘But we have always done it like this.’

This is a generalisation of course, but it’s only recently  governments have been talking about creativity and that’s only  as a way out of the economic downturn in which we find ourselves.

Creative industries have always created economic wealth; look at how much money the Beatles must have made for the UK economy in the last fifty years as an example.  Theatres, touring companies, creative solution companies, national art institutions and so on have an enormous role to play in bringing in money to a country. Of course monetary value is only one aspect of course and I do not want to concentrate on that particularly.

The rise in the number of writing and artistic retreats and courses is testimony to a growing awareness of how important giving time to this aspect of our lives actually should be. Creativity is the antithesis of competition. We have learned that the ego-centred capitalist model does not actually create wealth in the long term. Yes, we can all say what technological, time-saving lives we lead in the developed economies but look at the losses we have sustained in the process.

Creative people are often more open minded, are more likely to say ‘why?’ rather than ‘yes’, are challenging, restless, keen to explore, are curious, restless and rarely satisfied. It is these qualities which are necessary to kick start a new modus operandi which is so desperately needed right now. We have a young generation who are facing hardship like we have not witnessed for many years; they are unemployed,  are being offered a dearth of opportunities and they are victims, in my opinion of the biggest travesty of them all; a misplaced education.

Testing, league tables, standardised assessment, focus on ‘traditional core values’ (whatever they might be) and the squeezing out of creativity from the curriculum have generated a whole raft of people who have some difficulty in thinking ‘outside the box’. They have not been encouraged to do so and that is a crime. There is a whole industry out there teaching kids how to pass exams. That’s got nothing to do with an education.

Creativity needs to be promoted both inside an outside educational establishments. In fact we need to think again at just where education should be taking place. We have neglected this aspect of our identities for too long. Now we are in crisis, of that there is little doubt. This is not just because of a national government or set of policies; this is a pivotal moment in history. This is the opportunity to learn, unlearn and relearn.

A creative retreat for everyone, no matter what their age, background or interest would be a liberating experience. Youngsters need to learn to listen to their inner selves, not to constantly ignore or push away their creativity. Perhaps right now with the development of technology we have more opportunities, as never before. The important thing is we must learn to harness these opportunities using a different model rather than applying old epistemologies to new solutions.

Book a writing retreat, take up a drawing class, co-operate in group projects to circumvent the global downturn. Stand up and say, ‘It hasn’t worked in the traditional way so let’s try something different.’

We know the unconscious mind is always looking for connection, exploring ideas, coming up with the unexpected, so let’s listen to it. Whereas, in the conscious world, we are always taught to seek limitations, the ‘yes, but what if?’ scenarios. The old order promotes the tension between winners and losers, whereas it should be about ideas, cooperation, exploration, encouragement, enthusiasm and development. What right has anyone to make people feel bad in that ’ your idea is crap’ approach we have become so used to.

Can you honestly say you really benefit from the stress that being competitive brings with it? Do you get the same feeling from being in a winner/loser scenario that you do when you are creative? Do you experience the exhilaration from beating a competitor as opposed to having created something that didn’t exist an hour ago?

I know being creative is a stress reliever. Personally I cannot cope without being involved in creativity every day. If this is missing from your life make the promise today that you will do something about it. Every situation can be changed. Do it now!

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