Advocating Creativity

This paper, written with Taryn Bloom and published in the International Journal of Cultural Policy, volume 7, number 3, 2001, brings together three aspects of my research at the time:

  1. The links between art and creativity
  2. Arts advocacy, or more specifically arguing for government support of the arts
  3. The economics of the arts

The paper examines how the concept of creativity is used by to advocating government expenditure on the arts. It  paraphrases the main creativity argument used by arts advocates – that, through encouraging creativity, the arts encourage innovation and economic growth. It then critically examines the argument, first by clarifying what creativity is and how it relates to art, then by evaluating the argument against theory and evidence from Psychology and Economics. The argument is found to be weakened both by a lack of ‘hard’ evidence and by the way in which it is used by arts advocates. The analysis suggests ways in which arts advocates can improve the persuasiveness of their creativity arguments and provides insights into the design and delivery of arts policies.

The pdfs of the paper are in two parts:

Part 1 looks at creativity, its links with art, and how arts advocates use the term in lobbying governments. It pulls the advocacy argument apart and critically investigates each stage: the links between art and creativity; between creativity and innovation; and between creativity, innovation and economic benefits (both microeconomic and macroeconomic).

Part 2 considers the costs of creativity and summarises the outcome of the critical analysis. It then assesses the advocacy arguments from the view of market failure, comparative institutionalism and strategic issues.

The critical examination finds that:

  • Evidence suggests that creative potential may be realised, but not expanded.
  • ‘Hard’ or ‘scientific’ evidence to support the arguments is inconclusive and at best supports only correlation, not causation.
  • Artistic creativity may or may not be transferable into other spheres of life, such as inventive approaches in the workplace.
  • Inventiveness may or may not be successfully realised as innovations. Innovation is, nevertheless, pivotal to economic betterment. (Using a convention from the economics of innovation that distinguishes between invention and innovation: an invention being something new; an innovation being something new and useful.)
  • If the advocacy argument is to be targeted to government, advocates must address market failure and at least be aware of comparative institutional issues (in particular, that the advocate’s own comparative advantage in delivering non-market benefits is clearly established in the argument).
  • Arts advocacy would be improved by a clearer understanding among arts advocates of what creativity is, and the relationship between art and creativity. This includes understanding the costs of creativity.

Advocating Creativity part 1>

Advocating Creativity part 2>

The paper was originally published in the International Journal of Cultural Policy>


1 thought on “Advocating Creativity

  1. Pingback: Creativity, health and arts advocacy «

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