Are you a creative person?

One of the essential questions about creativity is whether everyone possesses it.  In our society, I think many believe creativity is the domain of an eccentric few, and if you don’t have it, you can’t develop it.  This seems to be the theory behind school arts programs; by the time you get to high school, most people who enroll in choir, drama or art class are those who are “talented” or at least those who self-select based on their interest — and they are overwhelmingly tilted toward practice of the art, not appreciating it.  Please note: I have not done any research on this and so this is just based on my own observation, but it does seem to me that we are teaching the lesson that music is only for musicians, and art is only for artists.

If you believe in brain lateralization (the brain has two hemispheres, one controls logic, sequence, and order; the other is creativity, intuition and empathy) then you also believe, at least in theory, that every person is biologically wired to be able to experience the traits that each side controls.  Some may show a preference for one side or another, but nobody (with the obvious exception of those with brain injuries or neurological diseases) is completely disengaged from the ability to create.

Can hemispheric dominance be trained?  Perhaps.  It may well be that traits carried by the right brain are like muscles — if you don’t use them, they don’t disappear, but they may be harder to access after a while.

Elizabeth Gilbert has a wonderful TED talk in which she expresses her theory about the creativity inherent in every person.  Give it a watch – you won’t regret it!


About Ellen Rosewall

I am Professor and Chair of Arts Management and author of Arts Management: Uniting Arts and Audiences in the 21st Century (Oxford University Press, 2013). I believe that arts and culture are undergoing a profound change in the 21st century, and I love talking with people about how we continue to bring arts to our communities and individuals give the brave new world of social media, technology and economic changes. Join the conversation!
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