Inspiration: On Making in the UK

From the Guardian’s Creative Professionals Network comes “Creating is not just a ‘nice’ activity; it transforms, connects and empowers” by Paula Briggs, a lovely discussion of what she sees when working with children vai the AccessArt program there. I particularly like her focus that through doing, children achieve skills like agency, self-confidence, and a sense of self, all of which I find critical to our work:

My memories of childhood relate to stuff – smell, material and texture … Always cutting, shaping and sticking … I know what it feels like to submerge my hands and mind in making, occupied with the struggle to transform and connect material …

It feels so fundamentally good and right to use our hands to manipulate materials – to use tools to extend our ability; to put stuff out into the world. The urge to alter our environment is part of our genetic makeup. The skill of making lies latent within all of us.

We now know that creativity is good for the economy too. The UK creative industries generate £84.1bn a year and account for 2.8 million jobs. It’s the fastest-growing sector of the economy …

We … see 10-year-olds who can’t use scissors. We see art squeezed into obedient slots that require no mess, quick results and easy success … We see children who have never felt success from using a tool to help them manipulate material … never felt the optimism of daring to ask: “would it work if … ?” …

[S]omewhere along the line, making became seen as a “nice” activity, but one we could do without.

So are we really preparing our children for their creative futures? … Making connects the hand, eye and brain in a very special way. It’s empowering for both maker and viewer. The act of making is optimistic; it’s an act of faith. People of all ages feel better for doing it.

Making can also be very social – conversations can meander while hands are kept busy. But it can also be very personal and give confidence to children who listen to their own internal monologue that takes place as they make in solitude.

If we want a world full of creative, entrepreneurial thinkers, we need to enable and sustain making from a very young age. Not all of us will become sculptors or engineers or designers, but we will become more connected, rounded and creative people.

So while making may sometimes seem inconvenient, we need to find the time, space and resources to make it happen.

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