How much do you value creativity? Recently a group of RSA Fellows and active citizens gathered to discuss that question following the news that the Welsh Government were going to support a new approach to creative practice in schools. This blog is a reflection of that event and a call to join the RSA Wales/Cymru team as they develop work around learning and creativity.
In partnership with the Design Commission for Wales (DCFW), RSA Wales/Cymru organised a debate to explore wider aspects of creativity and learning, in the context of the recently published ‘Creative learning through the arts’ action plan by Arts Council of Wales and 'Successful Futures', the review by Professor Graham Donaldson of the Welsh Curriculum, as well as the RSA’s own Power to Create approach. Chaired by Yvonne Murphy FRSA, Executive Producer & Artistic Director of Omidaze Productions, three speakers presented each a short provocation from their specific professional perspective. This was followed by a debate with the audience.
David Anderson, Director General, National Museum of Wales, opened with a plea for Wales to take creative learning seriously. A creative economy needs a creative society and people have a right to participate in culture. But the cultural sector has failed to make its case effectively. Culture is what is shared between people, and cultural organisations should be agents that help us share, that create access and code and decode human experience.
Anderson also warned against exclusion and questioned why young people do not have access to creative learning opportunities at all times. Why does it take an exceptional offer for these to be available? Creativity and learning are, in essence, the same thing and he outlined inspirational engagement activities at the V&A and the National Museum Cardiff as examples of good practice.
Maria Asenjo is an Architect and a DCFW Design Panelist. She warned the audience that creativity is at risk; “we are all born with a deep natural capacity for creativity, and then we start to learn…” Systems of mass education seem to suppress our creativity, but what is the ultimate goal of learning, if not to develop the talent we need to tackle big changes.
She also emphasised the effect of our environment on our creativity and the power held by architects to design spaces that are not just pleasant, but function well. She is conscious that her actions as a designer can aid recovery of hospital patients, just by making sure they have access to daylight and a window to look out from. But a problem with the design profession is that tools begin to rule creativity, rather than being enabling, and stifle innovation. We need to learn to change the variables, to ch0ange the results.
Finally, Thomas Gilliford, Project Engagement Officer with the RSA, explained how to unlock the Power to Create approach in all of us and how the RSA encourages Fellows to be creative change makers. He encouraged us to explore what creativity means for each of us, how we can assess this and whether it has an instrumental value? He highlighted the work of the RSA with schools, universities and FE colleges, to help develop creative educators, and its promotion of design and innovation. New approaches to learning should be aimed at improving creative capacities in learners and help them in making unique and fulfilling contributions to the world.
The vocal and wide ranging responses from the audience, challenged effectively by Murphy, confirmed that there is still much to explore and debate on this subject. RSA Wales/Cymru is keen to build on this and we are currently forming a group of creative and education professionals to continue the productive debate around creative learning, in particular in the context of ‘Creative learning through the arts’.
Creative Learning and Development is a key theme of work for the RSA. The RSA Wales/Cymru team aims to work with all aspects of the RSA to increase awareness of the issues and ideas in this area. If you have a project, blog or event that relates to this key theme we’d love to hear from you. Like our new group exploring Public Service Reform the team are keen to facilitate connections, highlight good practice and raise the level of debate of critical issues in Wales. To this end we would like to draw your attention to two upcoming activities that may be of interest to you.
Creative Spaces for Creative People event on 11 June. A session which will explore the importance of space to help creativity flourish.
Working with staff at the RSA we will be bringing together a group of senior school leaders to debate the role of creativity at a roundtable in the coming months. If you would like to take part please contact us via email to find out more.
We are always on the lookout for inspiration and ideas so feel free to contact us at any time with your ideas, projects and contributions.
Wiard Sterk, RSA Wales/Cymru Chair
The RSA is running the Pupil Design Awards for the fifth year, and we are aiming to reach young people who will be the designers of tomorrow.