By Eleanor H. Oakley
President and CEO
While we recover from the prolonged rains, we can start to celebrate October as Arts and Humanities Month. Since 1985, the month of October has been nationally designated to encourage all Americans to explore new facets of the arts and humanities in their lives and to begin a lifelong habit of active participation in the arts.
This year’s presidential proclamation says, in part, “Every stroke of the brush, stitch of the needle, or moment of the memoir uniquely marks our society and contributes to our national character. This month, we recognize the ways the arts and humanities have forever changed our country, and we recommit to ensuring every American has the opportunity and the freedom to question, discover, and create.”
I noticed during CBS News’ recent interview with Russian President Vladimir Putin that when asked what he admired most about America or Americans, he said “their creativity.”
So what is creativity, exactly? I like this answer: “Creativity is the process of developing ideas that are original and of value. Creative intelligence is dynamic, diverse and distinct,” British educator Sir Ken Robinson, 2001.
This is no small matter; creativity may be the actual essence of our nation. Too often, however, a discussion about creativity focuses on extraordinary people –Einsteins and Edisons–or at least highly creative ones. The real conversation needs to be about all of us.
Ever watched children play? They are naturally curious, with great quantities of imagination and fantasy. They explore, ask questions and are not afraid of what anyone thinks.
And creativity in adults? Creativity is the ability to think to solve problems. You see a roadblock ahead on your route. You immediately re-think your way home. You realize tonight is Halloween and you forgot to get the eight-year-old a costume—you drag out an old leather jacket and hair gel and he trick-or-treats as a ‘50s icon. You print 2000 invitations to a special event with a punctuation error—and grab the black pen and start remedying the problem. All of that is creativity.
Education Scotland says that as an adult, you should (1) get over the perception that you are not creative; (2) expect the unexpected; (3) have fun playing with ideas; (3) practice tolerating ambiguity; (4) be curious; (5) face your fears; (6) talk to people about ideas along the way; and (6) go for it.
In the coming weeks, our County Commission will declare this month as Arts and Humanities Month in Wake County. Make it your month to participate in the arts: attend a class, a concert, a play, make something, play something, just get out there and do it. Support the arts organizations in Wake that bring you music, dance, theatre, visual art and so much more. These groups offer deep and significant examples of the power of creativity. Go for it.