Creativity Matters: Building Momentum

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With most grassroots initiatives, building on-the-ground, community engagement and momentum is fundamental to the success and good will of a movement. Since beginning this work in the Fall of 2014, the Creativity Matters team has met, mobilized and convened over 500 people across the country through a series of roundtable events in Boston, New York, Washington DC, Chicago, Dallas, San Francisco and Los Angeles.

Our process has been simple, and truly generative.

Over the last two years we identified our 7 hub cities, based on existing work and cultures of creativity and innovation. In 2014, our outreach focused primarily on artists, educators and cultural institution professionals. In partnership with Project Zero at the Harvard School of Education, we held our first series of dialogues in Boston, New York, San Francisco and LA. Called Creativity in Learning, these initial conversations were primarily research based; trying to get a grasp of working definitions and thinking around creativity in learning. We built the participant pool through word of mouth and the generosity of others. After meeting in person and spending hours on the phone with every single person we were introduced to, we began to have a community that was personal and inclusive.

As our understanding of creativity grew and evolved, so did our outreach goals. Though our method stayed the same, we expanded conversations beyond the arts to include business and industry professionals, educators across a myriad of disciplines and activists working in the world of youth development.

The second series of conversations in Chicago, Dallas and Washington, DC took a more interactive and strategic approach. Titled Ideas from the Future, and designed in partnership with the Bespoke Cultural Collective, we imagined a world, 15 years from now, where creative practice was at the core of all our thinking and behaviors. To help facilitate the blue sky conversations, we crafted a series of “headlines from the future” reflecting what home, work, school and neighborhood looked like through the lens of a more creative culture. We then asked our participants to work backwards and consider what would have to change to achieve those realities. From those conversations, eight challenges to building a more creative culture emerged:


  • Cultivate a culture of caring
  • Mobilize collective action
  • Design equitable models of collaboration
  • Invest in systemic diversity
  • Reform existing social structures
  • Make work about passion and inspiration
  • Imagine learning as an ecosystem
  • Encourage risk taking and experimentation


The report produced from the roundtable series provides a preliminary synthesis that is but one output within the larger Creativity Matters initiative. Here is a link to the white paper if you’d like to read more…. Our next step is to synthesize these core challenges into a creative practice playbook, which will provide tactics and strategies for how to build creative capacity.

Stay tuned for our next post which will unpack the challenges and provide additional context and don’t forget to follow along on Facebook and Twitter.

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