A Case for Creativity

Back to top

A Case for Creativity

Creativity is the answer to reimagining the future. It is vital to all of our lives, from our wellbeing to our economy. How can we make the case for creativity as a tool for tomorrow’s discoveries, innovations, and experiments?

Hosted at Creative Coalition Festival 2022, the session A Case for Creativity centred on the relationship between the creative industries and the wider commercial world, exploring how artists and creatives can find success in business.

Graham Hitchen, Head of Strategy for the Creative Industries Challenge Programs UKRI, chaired the panel discussion, which included: Henry Holland – Fashion Designer and Ceramicist, Franki Goodwin – Executive Creative Director, Saatchi & Saatchi London, Fran Sanderson – Director of Arts Programmes and Investments, Nesta and Dr Gus Casely-Hayford – Director of V&A East.

Creativity is “a specialist and distinctive skill set that actually has to be trained and has to be developed,” notes Graham Hitchen as he opens the discussion by praising the UK’s world-leading creative education courses. He continues, it is important to dispel the myth “that somehow creativity is different from commercial development and commercial concerns and making money.”

Henry Holland, speaking about his successes in the creative industries and his journey from studying journalism at university to owning his own business, said: “I think my commerciality and my commercial brain has always been about funding my creativity… I’m very aware that my creativity can only take place and only happen if I have the money to facilitate that or pay for it or allow that to happen.”

For Henry, ‘working’ in the creative industries requires the financial security to pursue creativity; “When I say work, that means also sustaining myself financially and commercially to be able to build something and grow something and pay the bills.”

Speaking about the power of creativity as a unique tool in industries like advertising, which require you to ‘sell’ products to an audience, Franki Goodwin elaborated on the power of the ‘creative brain’; “Using your creative brain to get people to think a different way about your product…When you have to solve a problem, then you have to be really, really creative.”

Dr Gus Casely-Hayford, introducing the role of the V&A East in enabling creativity, had this to say about the importance of ensuring institutions are socially impactful. “[The new V&A museum] will offer a new way of thinking about not just the V&A,” he said, “but about how those collections belong to all of us, and they can empower all of us in different sorts of ways.” Reflecting on a more democratised cultural landscape, he remarked “it’s that idea of creativity being not just something which is for a few, but something that we can all engage in.”

Fran Sanderson described a supportive environment for change, as one that enables people to create without barriers; “I think something about having that space and giving that permission and silencing that saboteur in order to be creative is required.” For Fran, that support comes in the form of person-centred funding projects and grants, as well as supporting organisations through investment programmes.

Expanding on the process of seeking financial support, Henry Holland described it as “quite a painful process.” A journey which requires the creative to be “out there day after day meeting investors, meeting financial people and trying to sell yourself while trying not to sell your soul” without forgetting to “believe in what it is that you’re trying to get somebody to back you on and invest in you.”

Speaking on the relationship between company and audience as a fundamental component of social impact, Franki Goodwin said; “When you can find that magic of a brand’s values intersecting with their audience’s values and their customer’s values, and to create something powerful in culture, that’s when advertising transcends just the 30 second ad or the print ad.”

The idea of social diversity and widening the pool of inclusivity was a point that the speakers all touched on. Fran Sanderson spoke about what she described as “having those resources to support yourself to fail,” something that companies must be willing to support with. Without those systems in place, Fran noted that “we’re not going to get a diverse group working in the low levels in the arts industry.”

Dr Gus Casely-Hayford highlighted the collaborative work that needs to be done to support creatives; “If we were to work in a much more concerted way together, I do think that those sorts of young people who might fall through gaps would find different kinds of routes into our sector that I think could be really transformative, not just of their lives, but of the sector itself.”

Graham Hitchen rounded off the discussion with this important message: “One thing which crystallises what we’ve talked about, which is the desire to create something that’s really important, but it’s got to be a shared experience rather than about the ego.”

Author: Alex Stubbs


A Case for Creativity was sponsored by Audience of the Future, UKRI.