Our most recent round of National Youth Trends research found that 88.8% of young people in the UK see themselves as creative. For today’s younger generations the character trait encompasses an increasingly broad range of activities and outlooks.
A crucial factor is that there are simply more outlets and opportunities to exercise creativity than ever before. First, the (sometimes) democratising internet has rendered it’s users curators of their own museums and galleries, stockers of their own newsstands, DJs on their own stations, window dressers of their own arcades. We’re all now faced with an almost endless number of options for content, our feeds becoming more and more personal, where we can pick what to consume and when we want to consume it.
We now don’t even need to be there to make our own choices: the data’s got us covered. By continuing to consume, click, like and share, our platforms will keep serving up content which simultaneously is and isn’t curated by us.
The art forms which have thrived in the on demand digital world are of no surprise. 91.5% of 16-25s say they consume music regularly, 89.1% say the same for film and TV. Conversely, less curate-able forms of entertainment are drastically less popular: only 23.1% tune into sport and 21% visual arts.
When young people aren’t consuming content, they’re creating it. Minute by minute millions of users deciding what’s hot and what’s not: what will be the thing you spend 8 hours trying to recreate in your bedroom and what will remain a second long glimpse, gone forever with one swipe.
The above shows that, consciously or not, young people curate and create every day. In doing so their outlooks, self perceptions, and expectations change. It’s a principle reason why nearly 9 in 10 young people see themselves as creative in 2020.
So no wonder then, that when ‘the advert in question’ (see figure .1) left Westminster earlier this month, the internet onslaught went beyond (rightly) angry arts organisations on twitter and well into the public eye – with scrutiny and conversation crossing sectors and generations.
A favourite response (‘the meme in question’ – figure .2) was, crucially/ironically, very creative in approach. It points out the various layers of work which went into creating this piece of content – which suggests perhaps that creative careers aren’t currently a viable option. It yet again highlights the value we – but most pertinently the young people who led much of the backlash online – put on creativity.
‘Being creative’ is no longer about working in the arts and culture sector, but a valued and necessary approach, an outlook possessed an overwhelming majority of young people .
Seemingly discouraging people from entering ‘creative’ careers marks two mistakes in messaging. First: it subscribes to a notion of creativity which does not resonate with our younger generations – creativity is not just about the arts, but the role it plays in all sectors, jobs, careers. Second: it discourages people from entering the careers they perceive to be creative.
When looking to engage our younger generations, call out to the inherent sense of creativity that they develop, and thrive from, daily online. Don’t tell them to retrain, show them that you value creativity as much as the they do, and that no matter what the career, no matter what the sector, democratised innovation – the true Gen Z interpretation of ‘being creative’ – will reign supreme.
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