Despite a strong rhetoric of inclusion, both cultural and economic policies continue to reinforce the deep-seated belief that creativity is something (only) talented and artistic individuals do. This individualistic conception of creativity extends to the framing of the creative industries and the creative economy, where creativity is treated as either a quasi-commodity or the preserve of the so-called ‘creative class’. This article suggests that at this time of economic, social and environmental ‘melt-down’, there is a need to re-claim creativity as a social phenomenon, often resulting from human interaction across boundaries (e.g. across nation states, professions, industries, organisations, disciplines, social and cultural groupings, methods, epistemologies and rationalities). The paper offers a bold agenda for re-qualifying the creative economy according to this fundamentally social conception, including how this can be achieved through the embedding of a new discipline of social creativity.
At its most basic, social creativity requires us to find better spaces in our schools, universities, community organisations and workplaces, for talking, listening, sharing and creating, where the language of learning is one of allowing, surrender and humility; where all can find their voice and all voices can be heard; where human beings’ creative potential can be realised. I have taken the education system as an important starting point in this paper. However, it is clearly vital that this doesn’t abdicate what is a shared responsibility to just one group of key stakeholders. John Donne said ‘no man is an island’. Creativity surely flourishes upon the shorelines of our humanity. As we see glimpses of the landscape of a genuinely creative economy, we need to have the courage to move forward together (teachers, academics, practitioners, policymakers, etc.) on a journey to re-claim creativity as our common and shared birth-right. We can begin by taking some of the practical steps put forward in this paper.