Wonders of creativity

Laura Gascoigne investigates why what was once so very special is now common as muck and comprehensively commandeered by the fat controllers

In The Masque of Augurs, Ben Jonson introduces the comic figure of Vangoose, a “rare artist” and producer of masques with a reputation

for the
wildly fantastical. “Now we would bring in


some dainty new thing, dat never was, nor never sal be, in de rebus nature… a

mere ‘devisa’ of the brain,” the artist promises his Jacobean audience. “If it go from de nature of de ting,
free as the air we breathe has
been thoroughly and comprehensively monetized. How
did we let this happen? I date the start of the rot to the reign of John Birt, that Blairite Svengali of blue skies thinking and foggy speech who educated a generation of cultural administrators in the language of corporate /* xin2 */ creative bollocks. Take this example from Jana of creativity are

clearly massing, thanks partly to the
efforts of ‘creativity enablers’ devising ways of optimising meteorological conditions through
the establishment of ‘creative hubs’, ‘incubator spaces’ and ‘innovation


labs’ in happening places. “When you join THECUBE,” coos the website of one such establishment in Shoreditch, “you join a curated diverse and smart community of scientists, engineers,


technologists, artists, futurists
and anthropologists”. Artists, one notes, are only fifth on the list – ahead of Marinetti and Lévi-Strauss – but one assumes that all the disciplines share equally in the benefits of “innovation through community”. THECUBE’s founders got the idea, their website says, in the aftermath of the financial crash,
when they “hypothesised that it was the start of an economic and anthropological pivot”.

If you’re wondering how exactly a pivot starts, THECUBE’s engineers may be able to help. But let’s not nitpick. Around a “highly

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fuzzy concept” like creativity, an occasional lack of clarity is inevitable. There’s no such problem in Africa, however, where of the 28 languages currently spoken only one – Arabic – has a word for ‘creative’. It’s not that Africans are short on creativity, it’s just that in the matter of rainfall they prefer the wet kind that makes seeds grow into edible crops. Fuzzy concepts are luxuries for developed economies. In Taiwan, for example, they

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take their creative agronomy so seriously that last summer Taipei Contemporary Art Centre staged a Strategic Business Plan Public Stakeholders Consultation Focus Group Exhibition [snappy google_ad_slot = "7160667483"; title] to show the products of three ‘creative game-based workshops’ that ‘looked at aspects of the business of contemporary art’. The workshops were run by visiting Senior Tutor

in Curating Contemporary Art from the Royal //--> College, Kit Hammonds, a specialist in “imaginations of the future found in science, business planning and speculative fiction”.

The line between art

​ and business is now so fuzzy that an IBM Global

CEO study of 2010 named creativity as

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the most crucial quality


for leadership success (which could explain why so few CEOs are female, since women,