What's the value of creativity?
That’s the question company and organization heads are asking themselves in a quest to harness the “creative class,” a term coined by urban theorist Richard Florida (The Rise of the Creative Class), and spurred by modern philosophers like Daniel H. Pink, author of Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us.
While writing about creativity’s role in the new economy for New Trail, the University of Alberta’s alumni magazine, I came across a fresh Edmonton-based organization, CreativeAlberta, encouraging the support of creativity in economic, cultural and educational areas.
Next week, CreativeAlberta is holding a summit at the Winspear Centre, from May 15 to 17, to explore art’s new paradigm — not just as entertainment, but innovation. (Click here for event passes.)
Based on summits by New York’s Lincoln Center Institute promoting art-centred education in the U.S., Canada’s first Imagination Conversation invites renowned scientists and entrepreneurs to discuss how art is vital to their lives.
CreativeAlberta founder and president Haley Simons
“It started as an idea to try and erase the boundaries between traditionally silos sectors on a small and large scale,” says CreativeAlberta founder and president Haley Simons, who is also renowned pianist. “Literally, trying to get a math teacher to talk to an art teacher and integrate their processes to come up with something that's beneficial to the learner.”
Supporting her message, summit speakers include NASA astronaut John B. Herrington, the first Native American in space; Carrie Fitzsimmons, executive director of ArtScience Labs, a Harvard program using art to traverse scientific frontiers; and playwright Dan Hunter, who helped create creativity indexes in U.S. educational systems to measure students’ creative abilities with the same rigor as math and language arts.
Simons’ organization is lobbying for the Creative Challenge Index to take shape in Alberta’s school system, starting with early childhood education.
Simons plans to have 149 more Imagination Conversations across Canada over the next five years, but says it’s important that first one starts here, in Alberta.
“We're probably the most prosperous region on the planet," she says. "And when we start off with those advantages, we would be remiss for us not to do things like that.”
By “that” she means harnessing the power of creativity to improve what she calls the four pillars of a sustainable society: “cultural vitality, environmental responsibility, social equity and economic health.”