Tuesday, July 27, 2010

The Creativity Crisis ... Explored

Stay tuned in the coming days for my new online radio show, Creativity in Play, co-hosted with play expert Mary Alice Long and produced in partnership with the National Creativity Network. First guest on deck ... Po Bronson, co-author of the Newsweek article, "The Creativity Crisis."
UPDATE: Po Bronson has cancelled. Sir Ken Robinson will be the first guest on September 23, 2010, at noon Eastern.

U.S. House Designates "Arts in Education Week" in September

[27 July 2010 - Americans for the Arts] Yesterday, the U.S. House of Representatives passed H.Con.Res. 275, legislation designating the second week of September as "Arts in Education Week." Authored and introduced by California Representative Jackie Speier (D-CA), this resolution is the first Congressional expression of support celebrating all the disciplines comprising arts education. This is a very positive showing of support for arts education and comes at a key time when Congress is making plans to overhaul federal education policy. Take two minutes to send a message of support for arts education to your member of Congress! The resolution seeks to support the attributes of arts education that are recognized as instrumental to developing a well-rounded education such as creativity, imagination, and cross-cultural understanding. H.Con.Res. 275 also highlights the critical link between those skills and preparing our children for gaining a competitive edge in the global economy. This is an important message for policy makers to acknowledge as they prepare to reauthorize federal education policy. To send a message to your member of Congress in support for arts education, please visit our E-Advocacy Center.  As a House resolution, the bill does not require signature by the President upon its passage. You can read the resolution here.  We salute Rep. Speier and the more than 101 original cosponsors for their support of arts education and for this truly special recognition of the value of culture for our country's students. Americans for the Arts was happy to help provide assistance to Rep. Speier in this endeavor.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Manifesto for Creativity and Innovation

By James D. Mazerall
Nonprofit Studies Program, Rhode Island College
Providence, Rhode Island

The world is moving to a new rhythm. To be at the forefront of this new world, the United States needs to become more creative and innovative. To be creative means to imagine something that didn’t exist before and to look for new solutions and forms. To be innovative means to introduce change in society and in the economy. Design activities transform ideas into value and link creativity to innovation.

In order to progress, the United States needs increased investment – both private and public – in knowledge. Moving ahead with wisdom requires respect for history and the cultural heritage. New knowledge builds upon historical knowledge, and most innovations are new combinations of what is already there. Culture, with its respect for individual and collective memory, is important to maintaining a sense of direction in the current context of restless change.

Creativity is a fundamental dimension of human activity. It thrives where there is dialogue between cultures, in a free, open and diverse environment with social and gender equality. It requires respect and legal protection for the outcomes of creative and intellectual work. Creativity is at the heart of culture, design and innovation, but everyone has the right to utilize their creative talent. More than ever, the United States' future depends on the imagination and creativity of its people.

The economic, environmental and social crises challenge us to find new ways of thinking and acting. Creativity and innovation can move society forward toward prosperity, but society needs to take responsibility for how they are used. Today, they must be mobilized in favor of a fair and green society, based upon intercultural dialogue and with respect for nature and for the health and well-being of people worldwide.

To create a more creative and innovative United States, open to the rest of the world and respectful of human values, the following manifesto is presented, which sets out priorities and recommendations for action. The need for change and a new initiative is urgent. The United States must give full attention to creativity and innovation now in order to find a way out of the current stalemate.

  1. Nurture creativity in a lifelong learning process where theory and practice go hand in hand.
  2. Make schools and universities places where students and teachers engage in creative thinking and learning by doing.
  3. Transform workplaces into learning sites.
  4. Promote a strong, independent and diverse cultural sector that can sustain intercultural dialogue.
  5. Promote scientific research to understand the world, improve people’s lives and stimulate innovation.
  6. Promote design processes, thinking and tools, understanding the needs, emotions, aspirations and abilities of users.
  7. Support business innovation that contributes to prosperity and sustainability.

Lines of Action
The following lines of action require a new understanding of public policy. The United States government needs to engage in change together with social partners and grassroots movements. Shared visions and initiatives that cross traditional policy areas are needed in order to deal with current ecological, social, cultural, security and political deficits. Focusing upon creativity and innovation is a key to opening dialogues that cross historical political divides.

Action 1: Invest in knowledge
In order to strengthen the competitiveness of the United States, new budgetary principles that give high priority to investments in people and knowledge are necessary. In the short term, unemployed workers should be offered a chance to upgrade their skills. Business, trade unions and governments should work together in organizing the upgrading of workers’ skills through public and private funding. The scale and ambition of the educational funding must be expanded, be focused upon investment in research and knowledge and linked to building institutional frameworks that support learning in working life.

Action 2: Reinvent education
Schools and universities need to be reinvented in partnership with teachers and students so that education prepares people for the learning society. Retrain teachers and engage parents so that they can contribute to an education system that develops the necessary knowledge, skills and attitudes for intercultural dialogue, critical thinking, problem-solving and creative projects. Give a strong emphasis to design in education at different levels. Establish a major country-wide research and development effort on education to improve quality and creativity at all levels.

Action 3: Reward initiative
People that take new initiatives in business, the public sector and civic society should be rewarded. Social policies can contribute to innovation by sharing risks with citizens who engage in change. Artists, designers, scientists and entrepreneurs who contribute with new ideas should be rewarded. Prizes for excellence should be combined with legal protection of intellectual property rights and strike a balance between creating fair rewards and promoting knowledge-sharing.

Action 4: Sustain culture
Capacity-building in the cultural sector should be supported through national programs and mechanisms in order to sustain cultural diversity, independence and intercultural dialogue. Creative industries should be promoted by building new bridges between art, philosophy, science and business. The development and use of new media should be stimulated through raising the quality of the content. New economic models must be developed to finance free, diverse, independent and high-quality digital news media.

Action 5: Promote innovation
There is a need for a more ambitious and broad-based innovation policy. Increased investment in science, technology and design should be combined with efforts to increase the demand for knowledge. Firms should be stimulated to combine scientific knowledge with experience-based knowledge. They should be encouraged to increase diversity among employees in terms of gender, education and nationality. The education of engineers, managers and designers should mix theoretical education with practical experience. Innovation policy as well as labor market and education policy should aim at mobilizing users and employees in processes of change. Developing and implementing broad innovation policy strategies must be a major concern for political leaders.

Action 6: Think globally
The United States should be at the world-wide forefront in terms of science, culture and competitiveness. Collaboration within the United States in science, technology, education, design and culture needs to be further opened up to the rest of the world. A competitive United States should develop economic collaboration both with the strong, new emerging economies and with the poor countries most in need of support. Promoting innovation in poor countries is a moral obligation and it reduces the pressure of immigration. The United States should contribute to the establishment of fair rules regarding the protection and sharing of knowledge at the global level.

Action 7: Green the economy
The United States must mobilize creativity and innovation to transform itself into a post-carbon society. A key element is eco-innovation and the establishment of a "new techno-economic trajectory" starting from "end of pipe" solutions, moving through "clean technologies" and ending with "system innovations" that radically transform production, distribution and consumption. Investments need to be combined with new institutions, new regulation and new habits. Creativity is the major tool to find solutions that combine sustainability with prosperity.

Leslie Miller Personal Manifesto for Creativity, Innovation & Growth (A work in progress …)

By Leslie Miller
Nonprofit Studies Program, Rhode Island College
Providence, Rhode Island

I am inspired by the values presented in our discussions with Steve Dahlberg and through his Web site and resources shared with our class this week. I am not surprised that more government entities in Europe have been open to experiment with some of these principles than has happened here in the United States, but I believe we must start somewhere. I believe that change and growth begin with one person at a time. I have come to accept that progress is slow in our complex democracy. Instead of simply wishing that our state and local communities were governed on the guiding principle of human well-being, I am willing to accept responsibility to live in harmony with the principles I have learned thus far and to continue learning and being open to allow these values of creativity to sculpt my life. In fact, I have found that these concepts ring true with what I have learned as a 50-year-old woman who has returned to college and has experienced a renewed awareness of the person I was meant to be. I am excited to have learned better language this week to articulate these values I have been discovering in recent years. It is my hope that by living by the following values and principles of creativity, innovation and growth, that my life may attract others to join this movement to divert our global insanity of doing things the same old way and complaining that nothing has changed for the better.
  1. I will follow the sentiments of the doctors’ Hippocratic Oath, to “do no harm” in all my dealings.
  2. I will respect the culture and traditions that came and worked before me. I will strive to build up and not tear down others.
  3. I will become a student of these values of creativity, and will take note of others’ and my successes, and will share about them with others.
  4. I will continue to do what I love and will keep building a “web of relationships and interests.” I will introduce people and ideas from one endeavor I love to those from another, and allow the elements of one to pollinate and take root in the other. I will not try to control or manipulate outcomes, but will trust my instincts and those of my companions and learn and celebrate what grows out of such collaborations. I will not judge as good or bad such outcomes and will report these outcomes when I share with others.
  5. I will embrace diversity and make it a point to meet new people as I go about living my life and will strive to forge new relationships and partnerships. I will welcome new people into my life and will nurture these new relationships.
  6. I will focus on being authentic and fair in my dealings with others, and will strive to stay open to new ideas and ways of doing things.
  7. I will put more emphasis on the well-being of others and myself, than on making money. I will trust that by continuing to embrace these principles and values of creativity, I will have what I need and extra to share with others.
  8. I will continue to use and learn the language of creativity, and will live in harmony with its values that I now am and will continue to become aware of.
  9. I will watch for and make opportunities to influence others in my scope of activity, doing my best to introduce these values whether through my music and writing; or, in my professional, community, and personal dealings.


By a Mom in the Nonprofit Studies Program, Rhode Island College
Providence, Rhode Island

To many people the word "creativity" evokes images of artists sculpting or drawing a work of art; of a composer mastering a musical composition; a designer fashioning a new line of clothing; or an architect designing a state-of-the-art engineering feat. To me, creativity means "thinking outside the box" and trying a unique approach to something. It may be a manager who finds unique ways to motivate his or her employees to maximize their potential; a volunteer who unlocks fundraising potentials; or a person who views the same problem so many others view, but has a clever way of fixing it.

The need for creativity in my life became a priority when I learned years ago that my son had ADHD. It was apparent from an early age that he wasn’t capable of learning the way most children do. He couldn’t pay attention for long, was easily distracted, and lost interest quickly. While traditional educational standards were not effective for him, he had an innate talent for hands-on skills and was repairing motorcycles by the age of 12, performing basic carpentry tasks, and mastering computers. While most of his teachers insisted that he sit still and pay attention just like the other students, some of the teachers were able to alter their styles to fit his needs. They showed creativity in every essence of the word. They would teach him math skills by referencing football plays and fishing examples (two topics that he enjoys). They used hands-on approaches to teach him science; and stories to relate to history rather than facts and figures.

The approach these teachers took has helped my teenage son to become successful in life and feel empowered in his learning. These select teachers were able to put aside their traditional practices and develop creative, new ways to prove their own abilities and to encourage and educate their students, despite their different learning styles.

At home I experimented with creative ideas to keep my son on task, whether it was finishing his homework, completing a chore, or remembering to do something.

My "call to action" is to continue looking for creative solutions in my daily life, whether it’s empowering my son, initiating a new fundraising opportunity, or redecorating my home for a change of scenery.

Creativity Manifesto

By Cheryl MacColl
Nonprofit Studies Program, Rhode Island College
Providence, Rhode Island

Creativity is an important part of our lives. The ability to express creativity lends itself to many opportunities, relationships and networks. It is a way of bringing people together in a positive and productive way. The world would be a boring place without it. I feel that creativity belongs in our educational institutions, beginning in early childhood. It should also be a part of our day-to-day existence. Creativity is a unique learning process as it is unique unto each individual; therefore the outcomes are diverse and endless.

Creativity matters because it is productive and our world is constantly changing; allowing for such production.

Educational systems should be aware of the benefits of creativity. Nurturing the learning process through the use of creativity is beneficial because individuals may flourish through its use.
  • Encourage individuals to always tap into their creative side.
  • Maintain a positive environment with encouragement and nurture creative thought.
  • Build open, supportive communities, encouraging diversity from different cultures, groups and lifestyles.
  • Learn from mistakes and encourage growth from them.
  • Focus time on what is important and encourage productivity towards the goal.
  • Welcome creativity from everyone in your group.
  • Be confident in standing out in a crowd rather than going along with the crowd.

Creativity Manifesto

By Marcela Betancur
Nonprofit Studies Program, Rhode Island College
Providence, Rhode Island

When we look at a colorful painting or a curious sculpture we assume that the artist has an abundance of creativity and this might only be part of an endless sea of creative projects. Nevertheless, we rarely think of politicians or business people as creative, but in reality this is far from the truth. In our personal essence, we are all creative.

I believe a person’s creativity is developed and put forth according to their personality and the way they decide to take advantage of it. We are all different. Think differently. Reason differently. Decide differently. Feel differently. We are all creative differently.

The way that we handle our everyday activities reflects a lot about our personal creativity. A mother of a young child, for example, might hide vegetables under lots of cheese to get the child to eat them, or a college student might put Post its everywhere in his room with the constant reminder to return that book to the library. Even in the smallest action that we take, we use our creative intuition and our personality to take it.

Our creativity is the way we mold ideas or things to who we are, what we need, and where we are going. Creativity is the awareness we have of the things and ideas around us and how we can make our input. Creativity is feeling free to be ourselves and paint our lives outside the lines.

Creativity Manifesto

By Haley Gerstein
Nonprofit Studies Program, Rhode Island College
Providence, Rhode Island

Imagination and creativity are necessary. The clothes you choose to wear, the mural you paint, the object you invent, or the cocktail you come up with are all courtesy of your creative side. Everyone has an imagination and the ability to turn something bland into something beautiful. Without creativity, a term that can be used interchangeably with imagination, innovation and curiosity, we would still be living in caves, without fire.

This manifesto is about creating an intellectually aware world. A society of this nature would have basic morals: racism and homophobia are unacceptable, all living beings are the same and deserve to be treated as such, whether it be man or woman, white or black, human or non human. To create a world of this magnitude takes innovative thinking -- which steams from imagination.

This manifesto declares:
  • Children must be educated in a manner that allows them to learn how to think and develop their own thoughts.
  • Classes such as music, art, theater and dance will be given equal time to English, math, history and science.
  • The core of humanity is humility. A person must have the ability to empathize with all forms of life. These people are environmentally aware and proactive about saving the planet and all its life forms. They lead ‘green,’ cruelty-free lives. Animals are not used for food, fashion or convenience. Cows and chickens now exist for the same reason we do -- to live. Litter is a term found only in outdated dictionaries and there is no such thing as racism or violence because everyone’s life is valued the same.
  • Self-expression is strongly urged.
  • People will live. Life is about happiness. Your job should reflect your interests, your pay should be comfortable enough to allow you to work a maximum of 40 hours a week -- giving you time for the more important stuff.
  • Creative thinking must be encouraged. Every problem has numerous solutions.
  • Ignorance is not an excuse. Creativity can lead to anything. Creativity has given us modern medicine; it also gave us gas chambers. All creativity is encouraged and welcome, but people must not be stupid. They must be able to see past the manipulation and sugarcoating. Not all innovative thoughts and creations are positive. It is important to ask questions and draw your own conclusions.

Creativity is the spice of life. It allows us to discover ourselves and design how others see us. It opens our minds for discussions and helps the world evolve.


By Candice De Los Reyes
Nonprofit Studies Program, Rhode Island College
Providence, Rhode Island

  1. Nonprofit organizations have to be creative and adaptive to respond to the constantly evolving needs of the communities they serve.
  2. Nonprofits need creative and inspired thinkers who can view a problem and develop new and never-before pioneered ways to address it.
  3. Given the volatile fiscal climate, creativity and resourcefulness should be at the center of any organization’s core values.
  4. Every organization should build into its staff meetings, an institutionalized time for creative thinking.
  5. Someone once said,“Organizational culture eats strategy for breakfast.” It is imperative that creativity — and the general practice of stretching one’s mind to think outside the box — be embedded in any successful organization’s culture.

Creativity Manifesto

By Rosa Rosario
Nonprofit Studies Program, Rhode Island College
Providence, Rhode Island

Principles: Not in order of priority, as they are all equally important
  • Cultivating an environment of diversity. Though diversity can mean different things, the core idea is, variety. Promoting a space and environment of ideas, thoughts and options that are collected from a variety of people will increase the likelihood of success. Basically, there are more chances and options in We than in I.
  • Challenge practices. Challenge “old” ways of executing tasks if they are no longer effective. Over time, circumstances change. Lifestyles and society as a whole experience change and in order to grow we have to be willing to make some changes and possibly change out established techniques. Change is the only constant. Change has to occur on an individual level, as well as community level.
  • Investing in the arts. Arts are a means of personal expression, as well as a tool that is scientifically proven to enhance brain activity/function, self-esteem and personal fulfillment. Inevitably, we can make more of an investment to society if we are well-rounded, educated human beings. I see the recent practice of reducing or eliminating these programs in schools as a negative antidote to reducing budgets.
  • Invest in building community. It is important to work on building progressive communities, investing in our neighborhoods, in the appearance, in the quality of life, in its residents. This can be done by making funding more accessible and attainable to local businesses, schools and libraries. Also, we can ensure this by building a sense of cohesion and responsibility among community members. This will ultimately lead to igniting a desire to improve your lifestyle and overall quality of life for yourself, your neighbors, and for all.
  • Personal responsibility. Responsibility is a factor that I notice many people mention in one form or another. Either we are blaming everyone else for not doing anything, not doing enough, or conforming to the lack of participation (“No one else is doing anything so why should I?" type of mentality). I feel that it is one of our responsibilities as mankind to be available for each other. To help support each other in attaining stability and sanity in life. If we all have a strong sense of self, security, happiness, economic and educational foundation we can value the need for progress as a civilization. It takes a village. This is a lesson that we must all learn to grow and build continually.
  • Validation. The need to be valued is a basic need. We all need to feel appreciated for who we are, for our ideas, for what we bring to the world. Everyone has something to offer and if we broaden our scope of what is important and learn how to incorporate others' views, we would increase the likelihood of participation and collaboration on a community, local and event global levels. Opening communication leads to more effective collaborations that will break paradigms that stump development and progress.

Often, it can be difficult to gather ideas that do not mirror others. I believe that the challenge exists in assessing the “real” problem or the inhibitors in the situation and re-shaping our approach. An essential part of successful program development and creating a plan is the assessment piece. If we are to make positive changes, we must seriously and consciously look at the state of society and consider the ineffective changes that have occurred within the past decades whether it is the state of education, economy and fulfillment of its citizens.

Creativity Manifesto

By Lauren Paola
Nonprofit Studies Program, Rhode Island College
Providence, Rhode Island








Manifesto for creativity/change

By Linda-Jean Briggs
Nonprofit Studies Program, Rhode Island College
Providence, Rhode Island

Take pride in who I am. Continue to be myself.

Be tolerant of others' points of view. Embrace the possibility that there is another way to accomplish the same end.

Be more ready to step back from my determined ‘right way’ and look at other possibilities

Work harder to embrace others and their ideas.

Look to minimize procrastination on projects and tasks.

Work to temper aggression and intolerance in the politics of our community.

Remember to look at my family and be thankful for the happiness they bring me.

Creativity Manifesto

By Amanda Clarke
Nonprofit Studies Program, Rhode Island College
Providence, Rhode Island

Creativity is not just an abstract thought; it is a way a thinking that can be harnessed and utilized to generate new ideas. I believe diversity and inclusion are two of the most important factors in producing a creative environment. Below I have set out a set of guidelines to maximize creativity in an organization.
  1. Challenge assumptions. There isn’t just one way to solve a problem. Think beyond the traditional approach to problem solving and consider new possibilities.
  2. Construct an environment of inclusiveness. Everyone is creative in his or her own right and an atmosphere that encourages individuals to share their ideas will foster creativity.
  3. Diversity is vital to creativity. People of different ages, races, religions, socio-economic backgrounds provide a unique set of beliefs, which all add to the creative process.
  4. Employ active listening. During the creative process, individuals must learn to not only share ideas but also be willing to listen and discuss the ideas of others.
  5. Inspire creativity. All people have creative capacities, however, some more than others need help realizing them. Leaders of an organization should encourage and help develop everyone’s creative capacity.
  6. Use creativity and critical thinking in problem solving. By combining logic reasoning and creative thinking, unique and useful solutions are more likely to be discovered.
  7. Be a risk-taker. Creative people must have a willingness to try new ideas and sometimes be wrong.
  8. Solution-first thinking, leave behind negativity and use constructive criticism instead.
  9. Leaders should encourage creative behavior. Strong support for creativity from the leadership of an organization will encourage members to be more creative.
  10. Utilize creative spaces as a way to encourage creativity. Surround yourself with inspiring pieces of art, photos or whatever motivates you to challenge yourself.