Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Arts & Creativity: The February 2012 Essential Class Day

Guest blog post by Essential 2012 Class member Meredith Powell, following her participation in the February Essential Class session that focused on Arts and Creativity.
Essential Arts and Creative Day Panel Speakers
According to a recent GOOD web site report, in a survey conducted by IBM last year, 1,500 CEOs identified creativity as the number one “competitive edge" of the future. And Secretary of Education Arne Duncan recently wrote that dance, music, theater, and visual arts "are essential to preparing our nation's young people for a global economy fueled by innovation and creativity.”

In short, I look at it like this: art > creativity > innovation > progress. And, progress we must as a community, as a nation, as a world, as humanity.

The February Essential 2012 Arts and Creativity Day was jam-packed with information representing a myriad of passionate perspectives ranging from arts advocacy and education to established artists, producers, city leadership and our youth. Much like the day unfolded, the venue showcased our history, acknowledged our present and celebrated the possibilities of our future. And the Scottish Rite Theater was ripe for rediscovery.

Good news on the numbers front: Economic data is finally proving a correlation between arts, creativity and economic success. A few key resources compiled and analyzed by Texas Perspectives, Inc:
Robert Faires, a tireless advocate and invaluable asset, asked us to think of art as live, as experience, as energy. I like that. I like that because when you start to look around, when you start to notice art and creativity is all around you, you begin to seek it. You begin to value the differences all around you.

It also resonates because for art and creativity to be sustainable and adaptable particularly as economic models shift, it is at least as equally important to have demand for the work being produced as it is to support the infrastructure that helps make the work possible. It is on this exchange we must equally focus our attention when articulating the value and necessity of nurturing art and creativity.

For me, the most inspired moments were the involvement of Graham Reynolds, observing the brilliance of Brent Hasty and hearing the raw truth from the youth perspective on art in Austin moderated by Emily Marks. Connecting directly with artists is critical to the conversation. In these moments, minds opened. And of course, I always enjoy spending time with peers and partners.

Leadership Austin usually provides a stimulating break from my every day, an opportunity to learn about the issues we’re facing as a whole and inspires my mind to envision how my work in the arts can affect the change we’re responsible for leading—particularly across the sectors of which I’m less familiar. I complete the class exhausted but energized, informed yet curious.

It is my hope that my classmates completed the day informed, yes, but more importantly, energized with a curiosity to seek out and nurture creativity in the every day. We are responsible for Austin’s progress, for strengthening our position as a leading city of the 21st century — and creativity is at the heart of solving the complex problems we face today. Socially and economically, creativity provides a mechanism for innovation. It’s so simple. Who knew our progress started with art?

Essential Class 2012 member Meredith Powell is the executive director of Art Alliance AustinEach year, 55 people representing the diversity of Central Texas are selected to participate in the Leadership Austin Essential Class. The curriculum focuses on regional issues, leadership skills, and the building of strong networks to encourage innovative, collaborative solutions to the region's challenges.

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