Dream + Action = Innovation

[This entry is cross-posted on my Creative Infrastructure blog]

There has been a lively online conversation over the past twelve days since Rocco Landesman’s comments about the supply/demand equation for arts organizations.  I’ve read economic arguments from both the left and the right, a reminder of the dearth of healthcare option for artists, and an especially thoughtful piece on the potential commoditization of children that results from thinking of arts ed as a means to grow audience.  Early on, I wrote here about the possibility of transforming supply through innovation, rather than reducing it.  Avid twitterer and blogger Kira Campo picked up on the notion of innovation and pondered what innovation means in the arts.  Meanwhile, Lane Wallace on James Follows The Atlantic blog wrote:

Innovation experts and consultants stress repeatedly that innovation isn’t a matter of subject knowledge. It’s about thinking in flexible, integrative, and multidisciplinary ways, across many fields and types of knowledge. It’s about being able to synthesize and integrate different perspectives and models; of understanding and taking into account different human, cultural and economic needs, desires, values, and factors and, from all that, glimpsing a new way forward that nobody else managed to see.

In the midst of this, a student in my arts entrepreneurship class reminded me of a famous quote from George Bernard Shaw: “You see things; and you say, ‘Why?’ But I dream things that never were; and I say, ‘Why not?’” It is the ability and willingness to dream things that never were that leads to innovation, be it innovation in the arts or in science and technology.  (John M. Eger reminded us on his blog that the divide between science and art is fairly recent).  The dream, of course, is not enough.  That dream must be accompanied by ACTION to lead to innovation.  Artists, as creative thinkers, are good at dreaming.  And artists, as makers, tend to be good at action – we en-act, re-act, and act-ivate.  Finally, if that innovation – that en-acted dream – has value (defined broadly and measured multi-dimensionally) it can have lasting impact on our communities and our disciplines.

The conversation has been and continues to be rich and thought-provoking — keep it coming!

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