Thursday, 11 April 2013

DEFINING A CREATIVE: beyond potters and painters


When you students graduate from Acadia University about ¾ of you will become a Creative. You will become part of the Creative Class. 

What do I mean by “Creative” and the “Creative Class”?

In front of you lies a blank sheet of paper and a lump of clay. On the paper are the words “create something”. Stare at it for awhile … then make something in 60 seconds ... and as you make something, ask yourself, "How can I make money with this piece of paper or lump of clay?”
Birds on a Line, cartoon series. Created from nothing.
If you can fill that blank sheet of paper or mold that clay into something new,  AND GET PAID FOR WHAT YOU CREATE,  consider yourself "a creative".

Do you know that people do this every day? They stare at blank pieces of paper, blank computer screens, lumps of clay, pieces of metal and wood, or other raw materials.

Every day …
Programmers write computer code and get paid.
Authors write screenplays and books, and get paid.
Musicians compose music and lyrics and receive royalties.
Architects and Engineers design structures and win contracts.
Sculptors, potters and glassblowers mold raw materials.
Filmmakers fill blank film/disks to make documentaries.
Scientists develop formulae, models and theorems.
Artists draw and paint. Illustrators make Ads.
Mapmakers map. Gamers create cartoon characters and sound effects with marketing people.
Speechmakers influence people's thinking and get paid.

All start with nothing. As a  Creative you exchange your intellect for personal economic gain. Even a stand-up comedian could be considered "a Creative".

Social scientist Richard Florida, head of the Martin Prosperity Institute at the Rotman’s School of Management at the University of Toronto, defines a Creative “as someone who develops a new form from nothing and exchanges that form for economic gain.”

So, what is the creative class? In my opening statement I said that ¾ of you students will become Creative and form part of the Creative Class. Statistically that is true.

Looking at Richard Florida's work, for every six of you who graduate to become part of the creative class four others who do NOT have degrees will join you as part of the group. These four are the street-smart entrepreneurs. Slightly more than half of your group will be female. If we look at race alone, ⅓ of whites become Creative. ¼ Afro-Americans become Creative, ⅕ Hispanics become creative, AND nearly ½ of Asians become Creative.

Many people mistake the Creative Class as linked only to culture. This is not true. The Creative class spans all economic sectors (manufacturing, agriculture, science, health). The Creative Class is beyond potters and painters. It is more than about art and artists. A miner can be a creative if he/she develops a tool that could be used in mine safety and sold around the world. Creatives often act locally but think globally. Dan Taylor, Economic Development Officer formerly with Prince Edward County in Ontario and now with the City of Peterborough, tells us that Creatives increasingly live where they want because they don't need to go to where the jobs are. Jobs often come to them.

About 12 years ago Richard Florida noticed a shift taking place in our economy. He called it the Creative Economy. In the USA he noted that 40+ million people now formed a new class of people that was driving our economy more than any other. He calls this the “Creative Class”.

In closing, Creative Class is powered by knowledge and innovation. It requires skill, training, innovation and street smarts.

Now, look again at your piece of paper and your lump of clay and ask yourself “How can I be creative and make money from nothing?” Creatives do it everyday.

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