Creativity for Social Change
An introduction to Folios Volume 4, “Creativity in Conversation: On Culture, Community and Transformation” by Adama Sanneh, CEO and co-founder of the Moleskine Foundation.
“Creativity in Conversation,” the Moleskine Folios N°4, can be read as an editorial table which brings together cultural practitioners from various fields. The conversations at this table touch upon the roles which art, creativity and cultural initiatives play within the complex fabrics of our societies.
The turn of this new decade and the unparalleled events it wrought on the world were an impetus for the Moleskine Foundation to rethink and reimagine our position as a cultural institution. As a result, we took the opportunity to expand our reach by building new and stronger connections with creative and cultural organizations around the world. We did so with the hope of inspiring and participating in dialogue, igniting collaboration and ultimately gaining and sharing knowledge on the power of creativity for social change.
At this moment in time, when the foundation and the pillars of our lives have been shaken, creativity and culture are more relevant than ever. They allow for collective exploration and articulation of our current moment and its contexts, enabling each of us to develop our own tools to face the prevailing and pending challenges. The capacity to build language, to generate and shape dialogue, to strengthen processes, and to navigate ambiguity and complexity are at the heart of cultural work.
Creativity has increasingly moved to the center of societal development in the recent past. From its use in education as expressed by the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals to its role in shaping the future of work as stated by the World Economic Forum, just to mention two sectors, creativity is the defining skill and value of our time and beyond.
Notwithstanding crucial institutional acknowledgement, creativity is still mostly misunderstood. Despite its noted importance, it remains elusive; its practical applicability is deemed challenging, its role is often limited to a specific dimension of performativity connected to the economic sphere. However, creativity is more than merely an economic tool or trendy buzzword. Creativity is a mindset, an essential element to transcend status quo and to create a more plural, equal and just society that can lead us to rethink of new ways of living and new forms of togetherness.
With this belief in the power of creativity to change us, we at the Moleskine Foundation decided to start a series of conversations under the title “Creativity Pioneers” with the purpose of capturing the uniqueness of the various perspectives and experiences of those who grapple with the world’s biggest challenges.
We have connected with a worldwide network of people from innovative cultural organizations and individuals such as artists, cultural practitioners, and researchers, who, through creative thinking and doing, are working to make a difference by fostering social change in their respective communities and solving local challenges. We highlight the depth, practical (and non-practical) applicability, impact, and returns of creative thinking and doing by showcasing unique experiences and practices across the world. Be it employing music or creating innovative design technologies in order to address local societal issues, the testimonies of these organizations paint a picture of powerful work that is not only creating new spaces, but deconstructing systems, concepts and meanings to rebuild ones of their own. With this publication we aim to deepen and widen conversations on creativity to make spaces for it by sharing manifold experiences, methodologies, and unique approaches that have the potential to transform communities for the better by improving resilience, interconnectedness, capacity to face challenges in an effective and sustainable way.
We see creativity pioneers as ground-breaking activists, visionaries, artists, but above all, life explorers and thinkers moved by intellectual curiosity and a search of self through culture, knowledge and creativity.
Although their practices vary considerably from each other as they are influenced by their respective historical, political and social contexts, they bring about similar changemaking attitudes necessary for the work they do, a similar spirit and willingness to push boundaries, explore, deconstruct assumptions and reconstruct language and experiences moved by courage and love. We often hear about the importance of re-imaging our future together; our chances of success inevitably depend on our ability to practice creativity and criticality. These organizations present an unconventional and precious source of inspiration for all of us.