Jo Hunter interviewed by Prowl House on why creativity is important for society

64 Million Artists co-founder and 33k Everyday Artists leader, Jo Hunter, was interviewed by Jessica Ball at Prowl House. Jo sets out her vision for “creativity to be owned by everyone.” Read the original article here: http://prowlhouse.info/3530-2/

Below is a copy of the interview:

Where did the idea come from?
I was working at Battersea Arts Centre as Head of Strategic Development but I realised that I had stopped being creative, I never had my own ideas, I just developed other peoples. I made the decision to take a month off work and I asked friends and colleagues to set me various creative challenges to do every day. The response was amazing, I got loads of diverse challenges and immediately I knew that I had to leave my job and do something different.

The reason that we started doing 64 Million Artists – and the reason I live and breathe the mission – is absolutely about helping other people be creative too. But it’s become really clear that we aren’t just doing it because we want people to be creative, we are doing it because we want people to have self-worth, to have agency, to make decisions in their lives about themselves, and have purpose. So the creativity is kind of a method for that, rather than just creativity for itself.

Why do you think creativity is so important for our society?
To me, I think creativity is so much the essence of who we are. When we stop people from being creative it’s actually really damaging; we are taking away part of who they are. What we have done in this country is create a culture where art is what artists do and it’s a very top-down, hierarchal culture. As a society we have made culture all about skill and talent and activities, and actually to me, creativity is nothing to do with skills and expertise, creativity is about risk and vulnerability. If we can shift our culture to be more about creativity and risk and vulnerability then we would have a much more inclusive, less hierarchical society in which more people feel that they have agency.

You need to have three things to have agency: you need to have self-worth, your relationship with you needs to be okay; you need to have purpose, know what your relationship with the world is and what you want it to be; and then you need to have a platform or permission. Or sometimes if you have enough of the first two, you can make the third happen and you don’t need someone else to generate it for you.

What’s your ideal outcome for the project?
Yes, and ultimately my ideal outcome, ideologically, is that I want us to shift from a culture that thinks about art being what artists do, to creativity being owned by everyone. And so I feel that we are constantly going to be experimenting with the best way to do that.

Just that act of saying ‘I’m going to do this’ for me sums up being an artist, and I think everyone has that opportunity. Art isn’t about skill and talent for me; it’s about being someone who says ‘I would like this to happen and I’m going to do it.’

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