Commentary: Using a "creativity index" to re-integrate the arts into K-12 education

John M. Eger, Professor at San Diego State University,, 3/21/12

The California Legislative Joint Committee on the Arts [is holding] hearings on legislation that will develop a "creativity index" to measure creativity in public schools statewide. This movement matches legislation [passed in] Massachusetts last spring, and is much like a bill working its way through the legislature in Oklahoma. Maine, Connecticut, New York, Rhode Island, Colorado and Wisconsin are beginning similar discussions and Nebraska is getting itself organized. Seoul, Korea, and Alberta and Edmonton in Canada -- and probably other cities and nations around the world -- are following these efforts closely. Clearly something big is happening across America. All of these efforts represent an auspicious start to reinventing K-12 education. And they represent new thinking about the arts and what is called "arts integration." It's not the most widely understood concept, but it is simply about interdisciplinary education and using the tools of the arts. Many people don't take the term "arts" seriously. It's soft, not muscular. But we now know a lot more about learning and know that "arts integration" works. The California Alliance for Arts Education, and even the President's Committee on the Arts and Humanities, has said as much after spending years of research and study. In a book called The Jobs Revolution: Changing How America Works, former U.S. Secretary of Education Richard Riley [said], "We are currently preparing students for jobs that don't yet exist, using technologies that haven't been invented, in order to solve problems we don't even know are problems yet." It is vital that we merge the arts and sciences and, in the process, create the kind of curriculum at almost no additional cost that insures the higher order thinking and problem solving skills that will determine student success in the workplace of the future.


Commentary: Why creativity is the underestimated superpower of nonprofits

Avi Kaplan,, 4/12/12

Creativity is an under-celebrated superpower. You hear a lot in nonprofit circles about the importance of telling stories, of measuring our impact, collecting data on relevant metrics and learning from experience. You hear a lot about the importance of having a coherent strategy, experimenting and having a better attitude towards failure, about giving up control, engaging your community. Lately, I've been thinking a lot about creativity and the ways organizations can show personality. You don't often hear creativity singled out as a key thing to focus on, but if you bring creativity into your way of doing things success will flow. This quote from Maya Angelou never gets old for me:

"I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did,
but people will never forget how you made them feel."

If you want people to take action to advance your mission you will need them to feel emotionally invested in your work. You don't invest your heart in that way for things that are boring. The Oatmeal recently illustrated this powerfully in How to Get More Likes on Facebook. The comic shows why spamming and begging people to Like our content on Facebook is ineffective and exhorts us to "instead, create things that are hilarious, sad, beautiful, interesting, inspiring, or simply awesome." The Oatmeal is right. We connect with awesome and you can't be awesome without creativity. The problem is we underestimate our creativity. You may be thinking to yourself that your organization's personality isn't all that awesome. You're all about impact, and data, and showing results. Your wonky. You're serious. You're corporate. Funders expect you to be professional and effective, not awesome! Nonsense. Whatever your personality and brand, if you're creative, you can show your awesome personality and ensure your community can connect to your mission emotionally. Here are some ideas to get you started.


Commentary: What does it mean for funders to "support a creative America?"

Janet Brown, Grantmakers in the Arts blog, 3/27/12

It begins with parents singing to their children and is followed by schools where talent and creative thinking is (or should be) taught and encouraged, and by neighborhoods and small towns that celebrate diversity and cultural pride through artistic expression. All of this is a complement to the world of professional artists and arts organizations. At the [recent] Council on Foundation conference, we attempted to express this kind of personal and community involvement in the arts. What does it means to experience creativity in our own thinking processes? What does it mean to be inspired by professional artists at the top of their game? The arts are so very much more than the end product that we often focus on in the funding world. Artistic expression is not only a product, it is also an approach to learning, to problem-solving, to honest human expression, to community-building and self-esteem. Artists and arts organizations are actively working in areas of healthcare, aging, at-risk youth, education, our military, immigrants and refugees, poverty, homelessness, and more. There is no single answer to all the problems of the world, but encouraging creative human expression and nurturing those who can inspire us through beauty and truth is certainly part of the solution. When we think about a creative America, let's aim for an engaged and creative workforce and a citizenry that embraces our commonality as human beings through shared artistic expression. We can enhance all we do by involving artists and arts organizations in our goal of a healthier and more creative America


Commentary: Rethinking the 'creativity argument'  

Barry Hessenius, WESTAF blog, 4/16/12

It's been a decade or more since our sector embarked on a sea change in our attempt to better position the arts in the public discourse by embracing the wider concept of "creativity". The tipping pointwas probably Richard Florida's The Rise of the Creative Class. We rushed to embrace the idea that creativity was the new currency of an information world. We did this I think in part because we saw it as a way to expand the appreciation for the value of the arts. Creativity lent itself to an umbrella concept that we saw as inclusive of more than just the "arts" and we saw that as a way to more easily and more convincingly make the case that the arts had value to a civic society. What bothers me is not that our embracing of the creativity concept has had problems, nor that it hasn't born all the fruits we might have hoped for -- but rather that I have this nagging fear that it may not turn out to be in our best interests to have so subsumed the arts under the creativity banner. Creativity is about process -- art is the result. In embracing the concept that the important thing is the process, I am concerned we may be marginalizing the end result -- the art that comes out of the process. Everyone can create, but that doesn't make everyone an 'artist'. As a strategy, after a decade, it now seems to me that it is fair to question whether or not we ought to re-think, at least in part, our fully embracing creativity as a mantra over art. I'm not suggesting we abandon embracing the wider idea of creativity, nor am I suggesting it was a mistake in the first place. It has probably been more of a net gain than loss -- so far, but the jury is still out. I wonder if we shouldn't move to reclaim ourselves as the arts before it is too late. I don't want the 'arts' banner to disappear under the 'creativity' banner -- and I see signs that is what is happening.



" you know what the greatest talent in the world is? To be an audience.
Anybody can create. But to be an audience... Be an audience."

-- from John Guare's play The House of Blue Leaves

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