Monday, 1 August 2016

Where are the future creatives? And what are we doing about it?

Only 1% of people on the internet are creators!
Creative tools past
Its an odd paradox that in an age where we have the most powerful creative tools in our hands most of us use them to do passive tasks. At best we might take a selfie, add a filter and post it in the ether. That is the endless stream of social media. yes we might well look back nostalgically at our efforts. But I suggest there are less and less people able and willing to make a living out of creating. Why is this?
First of all I guess the notion of jobs like photographer, artist, poet, writer, musician. Considered the creative roles appear diluted by digital technology and means of distribution. When I was a teenager if you wanted to take a photograph (my obsession back then), you had to and first save up for a decent camera. Mine was a Zenit E, followed by Canon AE and many more. Also the accessories as you gradually learned the trade of using different lenses for different reasons and flash in the dark etc. If you were a fanatic like me, you but a darkroom with a Durst enlarger. Struggled to create a space of total blackout where you could develop and enlarge your masterpieces. I was told that good print could last a 100 years or more. I wonder what digital archives will be around in 100 years?
Ingrained in that crazy slow learning curve was a desire to capture images that endured and pleased others. And master the techniques of presenting them. To exhibit was to bare your soul. The great and good came from far and wide to see, and if you were lucky purchase your efforts. You would number them to make them even more desirable. Oddly I've noticed a resurgence of people using film recently that might one day return to this situation. But I doubt it.
Like music and writing, the art of photography died with the digital camera. Music struggles on but the means of distribution have rendered earning a living as a musician almost impossible. Art is the last bastion. Struggling in its own way to stand out in the crowded space where social sharing and advertising increasingly co-exist. One in 11 jobs or 8.8 per cent of all UK jobs now falls within the creative economy, and one in six of all UK graduate jobs are also creative economy positionsThis is seen as good, but as work opportunities decline and the traditional notion of work disappears with the coming AI revolution. The percentage is going to have to be a lot bigger! 
Part of developing and autonomous, think on your feet, adaptable workforce is going to be all about stimulating and encouraging creative skills beyond the odd selfie. 
My self with Prisma - 5 mins of effort!
But how? 
At the moment our education system and every other facet of society pushes people towards the traditional view of 9-5 treadmill jobs. The new breed of hamsters, apart from a small minority, seem happy to follow. Disruption is happening in many aspects of society, bitcoin, crowdfunding, crowdsourcing, AI, autonomous vehicles. But not in traditional education. According to many commentators it kills creativity. This is something we need to tackle quickly. Or we will hive our future creatives to mindless silos nose to the grind wheel.
The solution is opening things up, yes even schools and colleges. Oh the risks I hear you scream. But as long as we keep closed systems, closed institutions and closed thinking, we will not stimulate the 'autonomy economy' of future creatives. 
My vision is that the best things happen when strange worlds meet. Co working hubs around the world are demonstrating this almost daily. what we need is to do this earlier, faster and cheaper to enable worlds to collide more often. Creative hubs, freely available to all are the answer. When I was a kid the library was my education, but they are no where  near cool enough anymore. We need spaces that are the epitome of wow. Designed to attract and throw together the cleverest minds of all ages and social strata. No government will support this as this kind of autonomy terrifies them. It is for our generation, those who know how to make stuff, to provide them for the future. 
Some light is starting to appear, we have hubs coming out of our ears in Exeter and conferences too. The problem is they are disparate and not in the centre. There is no one centrally placed Loci, I propose a quiet takeover and I have a target place! Watch this space...
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