Have you read Martin Farewell’s recent blog Poetry Friday: “But I’m Not the Creative Type”? Martin is a creativity champion, and I am always grateful for his prolific musings on the subject of creativity! For as long as I can remember, I have held the belief that human beings are inherently creative—long before the words creativity and innovation became the “mot du jour.” Recently, our burgeoning Creative New Jersey movement is taking hold as we encourage New Jerseyans to embrace and acknowledge their creative capacity. If you are a follower of our Creative NJ blog, you know that our bloggers have shared with us how creativity is manifesting itself in their work and many of the Dodge Foundation blogs highlight examples of “creativity in action” across all sectors.
While we are making progress, I think our creativity movement can learn a thing or two from the sports industry. Millions upon millions of individuals around the globe play sports. For many, the enjoyment of sports usually begins in childhood and while most of us do not possess an ability that can place us in the major leagues, the inclusiveness of sports, on the whole, engenders a life-long admiration and appreciation for professional athletes. Have we ever heard a professional athlete or team manager advocate for the abolishment of the extensive Little League network or the discontinuation of community bowling and softball leagues? Sounds absurd doesn’t it? No one confuses the avocation of playing sports with the full-time vocation of highly-trained professional athletes. Nor does the multi-billion dollar sports industry feel threatened by the fact that millions of Americans emulate their star-players. On the contrary, they support, applaud and encourage the inclusiveness of the industry—they don’t profess to own “athleticism.”
Yet, we continue to confuse creativity with artistic talent. The Arts, like the professional sports industry, consists of trained, highly-skilled and exceptionally talented individuals; they have much to offer the national creativity movement. And while our Creative New Jersey movement recognizes that no single discipline owns creativity, the Arts help to guide us in developing our creative capacity, and offer us multiple opportunities to strengthen and sharpen our imaginative spirit. We know that creativity is present everywhere—in nature, agriculture, science, medicine, technology, education, business, community planning, philanthropy, and the arts. Let us all make a commitment to exercise our creative muscle…and share your stories with us so we can champion your imaginative ideas and share them with our creative communities around the state.
Elizabeth Murphy is the Director of Creative New Jersey. She is also currently assisting the Council of New Jersey Grantmakers with their coordination of the Post-Sandy Philanthropic Response in NJ.
Creative New Jersey is dedicated to fostering creativity, innovation, and sustainability by empowering cross-sector partnerships in commerce, education, philanthropy, government, and culture in order to ensure dynamic communities and a thriving economy.
Creative New Jersey’s leaders and partners are regular contributors to the Dodge blog.