The Voice of Creative Expression

We still live in a society in which persons are more so “punished” for wanting to pursue art-based careers rather than being rewarded for it. While culture demands art, they discourage you from wanting to be an artist, they don’t reward you. Because of that, persons who want to pursue these fields end up feeling conflicted and they end up being frustrated with themselves and society because society is not built to enable their creative expression. Why? Simply because these fields are not considered “essential services” and are “too risky.” 

Therein lies the true issue … how do we define “essential” and do we even know what the concept means?

A few weeks ago, I saw a post, by Denise Ivanoff, that said the following:

“I think everyone who [says], ‘well you should have gone into tech or something useful’ should have to go 30 days with no reading, no TV, no movies, no museum visits, no video games, no theatre, and have arts stripped from all their other experiences … no music [or food] in restaurants, at sporting events, bars, stores, nothing. No audiobooks or podcasts or music on their commute…”

I’ll also add, no infrastructure designed by architects and interior designers and no electronics, cars … designed by industrial artists and designers … 

I sometimes ask myself “If Creative Expression had a voice, what would it say?”; “How would it defend itself to a society that does not yet see its full value or potential?” 

I remember having a conversation with a friend of mine who explained what he called the “Toilet Paper Factor” when we were discussing a business’ value proposition. He said that one item you will always find in a household is toilet paper. It’s an unspoken necessity. Persons don’t need to explain it, they just know that it is a must-have, and that’s value right there. 

The UCAP aims to help make the arts just that, an unspoken necessity. This is the point in the article where you’ve possibly asked:

“How exactly do you plan to do that?”

The answer in its simplest form begins with knowledge and enlightenment. 

For the last year, the Ubuntu Creative Arts Project has done exposés on artists giving them a voice and giving emerging creative professionals an avenue to share their stories. We have also started incentivizing creative expression through scholarships and we are committed to continuing, expanding and improving on these activities in 2020. However, this year we will also start with the basics, as we allow the arts to reintroduce themselves.

Each month, we will be doing articles on art-related topics along with exposés selected art forms to help to shed light on each of these essential fields. The hope is to help to give them a voice so that we can start to have more informed conversations on their value and how we can meld them with other professions to create new avenues for careers and fully embrace the opportunities that many other countries have. 

For many years, societies have promoted the traditional fields, the feasible, the practical and the careers that “make sense”… careers that have been proven to work time and time again. It is very true that those fields are essential, they save lives and create structure, but what are we saving lives for? What are we creating structure for if not to live a life that is also enriched with colour and vibrancy? That is where the arts come in, they create rhythm, movement, kaleidoscopes … culture.

The arts add energy to the mundane and are the flesh on the skeleton that has been created by all the other traditional pillars of society that allow for holistic civilizations. 

Photo Credit: Jon Tyson

The message being sent by The UCAP is by no means “Us Versus Them” and it is NOT to say that the “creative arts are better than the traditional fields” but it IS to give value to the arts through starting and continuing a conversation. 

With all this being said, I still want to pause for a minute and be proud of how far we have already come. We have slowly become more open to craft, and the fine arts (music, drama, dance, and so on). However, that is just the tip of the iceberg and the way to unlock the rest is through becoming more informed and open-minded. 

Stay tuned and stay blessed.