I am chairman of the Arup Design Council and am...
I believe that everyone is born with creative instincts and that the opportunity to express your creativity should be a human right.
I also believe we are at the dawn of a new age – where nations are increasingly turning to creativity and design to achieve growth and success – the age of creativity.
Because, in today’s global economy, where capital and labour are so mobile, where goods and services can be produced almost anywhere, it is the power of ideas and innovation, of creativity and design adding value, that will bring economic success and prosperity.
The world’s creative industries make up around 7% of global GDP. They provide not just money and jobs but also an inventive and intellectual edge to the culture and identity of nations and cities.
But there are some questions we need to answer if we are to take advantage of the new age of creativity.
How can governments champion their creative industries sectors to create a good climate for them to operate in? Is it just about investment? Is it about encouraging creative clusters? Can they take specific areas and try to do a Silicon Valley like California or, as London is trying, a Tech City? How can they encourage the creation of intellectual property and tighten regulations to protect ideas from theft and copying?
How can businesses attract the most creative recruits and then nurture their creativity? How can perceptions be changed so that nations, cities and businesses are seen as creative?
How can we embed a creative education for all children from a young age? How can we develop pathways, right throughout the system, for young people to progress from school to further and higher education, and careers in the creative industries? How can we ensure teaching quality of the highest level? How can parents help their children develop their creative instincts?
These last questions about education are very close to my heart as my wife Frances and I run a small education charity which works with young people.
We were inspired by a recent Cambridge University conference which revealed new research suggesting that 13,000 years ago, children living in the complex of caverns at Rouffignac in the Dordogne (known as the Cave of a Hundred Mammoths) were actively helped to express themselves through finger fluting – running their fingers over soft red clay to produce decorative crisscrossing lines, zig-zags and swirls. Stunning drawings, including 158 depictions of mammoths, form part of the extraordinary paintings found within the five-mile cave system.
Some of the children’s finger paintings are high up on the walls or ceilings, so they must have been lifted up to make them or have been sitting on someone’s shoulders.
Just picture that. 13,000 years ago, in a dark cave. A small child, sitting on an adult’s shoulders, reaching up to express his or her creativity.
I said earlier that I believe everyone is born with creative instincts and that the opportunity to express your creativity should be a human right.
So, if we want growth, economic success and better quality of life through this new age of creativity, I can’t think of a better way to start than by emulating those cave dwellers, 13,000 years ago, by lifting our children up on to our shoulders and helping them create the future.