Investment in creative workforce can shape new economic frontiers
For those of you with wanderlust in your soul, there is no romantic Arcadia as wondrous as the Royal Gardens at Highgrove, the family residence of the Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall. This magical estate is a place where your senses will be enlivened. Every year, these wondrous gardens attract more than 40,000 visitors.
It is evident that, in order to flawlessly curate the gardens’ aesthetic experience, a guild of imaginative creatives is at play in every aspect. This includes gardeners, chefs, artisans, product designers, artists, tour guides, and website developers. For example, the estate has collaborated with London-based artist Josie Shenoy to produce an illustrated map that features all of the garden’s main attractions and is dotted with whimsical nature-inspired motifs that also feature on several products available at the estate shop. One of my favorite products is “The Highgrove Suite,” a contemporary classical harp concerto by British composer Patrick Hawes, which was commissioned by Prince Charles in 2010. When listening to this music, you will drift into a serene dreamscape, touched by its unique, celestial artistry and the ethereal beauty of the gardens.
I mention this vision as I come to realize that the creative arts play a vibrant role in every aspect of our lives. From the moment we wake up, we are surrounded by all forms of the arts, such as home interiors, music, film, fashion, architecture, concert halls, stylish cafes, and shops filled with products, to name just a few. The creativity surrounding us is invaluable to our human experience — and it is all thanks to the work of the creative industries.
In 1997, the UK government made its first attempt to measure the impact of the creative industries on the economy, listing 13 sectors that “have their origin in individual creativity, skill and talent and… have a potential for wealth creation through the generation of intellectual property.” These sectors include advertising, architecture, design, fashion, film, music, the performing arts, and the media.
The UN Conference on Trade and Development published a report in 2019 that asserted that the global market value for creative goods had grown from $208 billion in 2002 to $509 billion in 2015, enjoying export growth rates of more than 7 percent during these 13 years. Furthermore, the creative arts play a key role in improving our physical and emotional well-being, fashioning sought-after products, immersing us in unforgettable experiences, preserving our heritage and cultural legacy, and boosting tourism.
With the growing significance and resilience of the creative industries, it is imperative that younger generations have access to a universal and engaging creative arts education. Sir Ken Robinson, an influential British expert on arts education, believed that teaching creativity unleashes a torrent of innovations and improvements to mankind. He defined creativity as “the process of having original ideas that have value.” Indeed, by fostering this important skill among children and young people, we can pave the way for a series of economically viable ideas, inventions, and experiences.
An effective creative arts curriculum would, thus, immerse children, from as young an age as possible, in a wide range of creative activities in order to build a repertoire of knowledge and competencies. At the same time, important skills, such as imagination, communication, divergent thinking, problem-solving, risk-taking, and perseverance, are fostered during the creative process. Teachers would need to receive extensive special training on a creative arts curriculum to deliver it well and keep children rapt.
By fostering this important skill, we can pave the way for a series of economically viable ideas, inventions, and experiences.
But creative arts education need not be limited to school or higher education settings. Parents and educators can take advantage of a wide range of facilities to engage children with this realm. These include enrolling them in arts clubs that offer workshops, organizing visits to art galleries and museums, traveling to locations with a rich cultural heritage, and encouraging apprenticeships and student exchange programs in foreign countries. Increasingly, many museums are playing a pivotal role in supporting creative arts education through on-site storytelling performances, workshops with artists and designers, gallery tours, and learning studios. Additionally, many digital platforms are providing a fantastic suite of online art courses that are affordable and accessible, such as Skillshare, edX, and Udemy. Google Arts & Culture is also a wonderful digital platform curating content from more than 2,000 leading museums, in addition to providing virtual tours.
It is evident that, by investing in the creative workforce, we will be able to shape new economic frontiers, which are vital for competing in the 21st century.
- Sara Al-Mulla is an Emirati civil servant with an interest in human development policy and children’s literature. She can be contacted via www.amorelicious.com.