As the year draws to a close and we start to think ahead to next year change is on our minds. What resolutions will we be making to make next year a better one? Ours at the Pumpkin patch all seem to relate to focussing more and nurturing our respective talents more. This brought up the interesting subject of how we value creativity, both individually, as an industry and in the wider sense as a nation. George Osborne’s proposed cuts to spending in the arts earlier in the year brought this topic to the fore.
It started with the announcement that funding would cease for the UK Film Council, removing vital support for an industry that was beginning to flourish.
My view is that the arts, in all their glorious forms, are not a luxury we should consider expendable in tough times. Just because politicians and bankers have mismanaged the economy doesn’t mean our artists should be sacrificed.
Ultimately, art is about representing experience and expression. It is our ability to think, express and verbalise that expression in a multitude of abstract mediums that separates us from animals.
If you work in advertising you probably know a number of junior creative teams that have experienced poor pay or redundancy in the last 12 months. Young creative teams are often viewed as the most immediately expendable of a creative agency – in part due to the fact they’re unaware of their rights and not confident enough to object to poor treatment by their employers.
This attitude represents a shameful characteristic of our attitude to creativity itself. Creativity can be successfully monetised, but it shouldn’t be driven by it. It is an abstract commodity by nature – it isn’t a tangible product you can stockpile and save for a rainy day. It is much like fruit – it can become stale and eventually rot. But you can’t separate the individual from the productive output. As Arthur Miller has Willy Lomas say in Death of a Salesman: ‘You can’t eat the orange and throw the peel away – a man is not a piece of fruit.’ You must nurture your creatives and harvest their creative output regularly. They aren’t a tap you can turn on and off at will. Because their value is enormous. Samuel Taylor Coleridge puts it best:
‘Sir, I admit your general rule
That every poet is a fool
But you yourself may serve to show it
That every fool is not a poet.’
A small part of the fight back to regain ground on behalf of creativity was this month’s DMA Awards which celebrated the ideas that demonstrate a creative’s power to innovate and educate, create income and jobs, and enrich our culture and communities.
Another great stride made by the DMA Awards is the creative graduate project What Are You Worth?, a blog hosting contributions from Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg to Matt Brittin, MD of Google in the UK, to our industry’s esteemed Rory Sutherland, president of the IPA, discussing creativity. Its aim is to encourage graduates to discover whether we are really nurturing and supporting the next generation of creative leaders and explore the ‘real value’ of ‘creative thinking in a changing Britain’ which will hopefully stimulate, provoke and inspire.
So if you are a creative go have a read and ask yourself what are you worth? And are you getting it? If you’re a business leader ask yourself what resolutions you intend to make to nurture and support your creatives in the new year.