Thought Leadership

Building creative opportunities for all

The inaugural Create Conversations event explored the vital role of creativity and how to better open up equal access to creative careers

Georgie Moreton

Deputy Editor, BITE Creativebrief


Often we define creativity as something that  a few people have, rather than something that all people can benefit from. While the creative industries are growing faster than any other part of the British economy and the arts have been proven to develop skills, confidence and well-being, why is it that so many people still don’t have equal access to creative opportunities?

Nicola Kemp, Editorial Director at Creativebrief sat down with Nicholas McCarthy, Pianist, Dr Carolyn Mair, Fashion Business Consultant, Jordain Edwards, Senior Recruitment Manager at VCCP and Nicky Goulder, Founding CEO of Create for the first Create Conversations. A series of events set up by the charity, Create to encourage constructive discussions on the role of creativity in society. The conversations form part of the charity’s mission to ensure that everyone, regardless of background, has access to the power of creativity.

Leading with inclusion

Nicky Goulder started Create 22 years ago because she is passionate about creativity and everyone's right to access creativity. Yet, so often the people who would benefit the most from creativity are not given access.

Nicholas McCarthy, a Concert Pianist, was born with only one hand. He knew very quickly he wanted to be a pianist at the age of 14. “I was filled with teenage naivety that pushed me forward. Very quickly found out that it was not going to be easy,” says McCarthy.

Creativity takes patience. Remember your starting point and enjoy the progress.

Nicholas McCarthy, Pianist

He says that ‘being a disabled person from birth, you develop a thicker skin out of necessity. Yet, McCarthy says that the armour he developed has helped him break down barriers. In his own journey, he refused to take no for an answer.

Now he is helping to make things easier for others and remove the barriers he faced in realsing his own creative potential. He has helped to create a scale exam system that works for people with a limb difference. Determined to not let others face the negativity and barriers he faced, he is pathing the way for easier access for others.

Labeling someone as a creative or not a creative limits people’s abilities and access to creative pursuits.

Dr Carolyn Mair, Fashion Business Consultant

Redefining creativity

Dr Carolyn Mair, a Fashion Business Consultant stresses the need to broaden the definition of the word creative. “You are ‘a creative’ and if you’re not ‘a creative’ you're something else,” explains Mair. She explained: ‘Labeling someone as a creative or not a creative limits people’s abilities and access to creative pursuits’. She urges people to consider that there is creativity needed in every part of life and in all different job roles.

To connect with a more diverse pool of talent, Goulder supports this need to broaden the definition of creativity. Create has worked with around 46,000 different adults and children since its inception, all of  who are all creative in their own way. Some are people who have not been given a formal opportunity to be creative, while others are professional emerging artists. Both groups approach things in their own unique ways.

Representation is also crucial in the commercial creative arts. Ad agencies are particularly in need of diverse talent to broaden the lens and create work that resonates with audiences.

“It used to be very much who knows who and all the ads that were being made were just being made by the same people or the same type of people,”  explains Jordain Edwards, Senior Recruitment Manager at VCCP. Acknowledging that there has been progress in this space, he says that now he feels there is a lot more diverse talent in the industry bringing their own unique thinking and injecting new life into the work.

He believes that spotlighting talent and showing that they don’t have to come from a certain background to be creative will continue this improvement and open up new opportunities.

Creativity is an essential aspect of our lives as it's intertwined with self-expression and identity and enables us to feel authentic.

Dr Carolyn Mair, Fashion Business Consultant

The real-world impact of creativity

Creativity can have a hugely positive impact on people's wellbeing, and self-belief and help combat imposter syndrome. Edwards points to the example of employee resource groups brought together by common values as a vitally important way of creating representative communities that can enhance creativity. When there are still preconceived ideas and stereotypes of what ‘a creative’ looks like, connecting with others can help to change the narrative and broaden mindsets.

McCarthy champions looking at creativity as a journey rather than an end product. “The work is never done,” he explains, adding: “I think that with any creative skill, we are all used to being able just to do something. Creativity takes patience.”

He encourages people to take time, enjoy the journey and give themselves space. “Remember your starting point and enjoy the progress,” he says.

“Creativity is an essential aspect of our lives as it's intertwined with self-expression and identity and enables us to feel authentic,” adds Mair. As well as helping people to be happy in their own identities she stresses that creativity improves cognitive and problem-solving skills, increases positive emotions and improves mental health.

Remember there are networks out there, meet people, be vulnerable and reach out to understand the perspectives of others.

Jordain Edwards, Senior Recruitment Manager at VCCP

Improving access

Improving access to creativity is ironically going to take some creative thinking. McCarthy shares that the times he has felt the most shut out of opportunities is when people are thinking about limitations rather than possibilities. He urges people in leadership positions to open their minds and think about the power of creativity and what they can do with it, or risk losing out on talent and opportunities.

Edwards urges people to learn from others and seek out different perspectives to find common ground. “Remember there are networks out there, meet people,  be vulnerable and reach out to understand the perspectives of others,” he says. 

The panel all stress the importance of a creative education and encouraging people from an early age to experiment. Where people feel judged as being ‘not creative’ at an early age there is a huge job in rebuilding confidence. “Bring people in from all backgrounds and abilities and let them have fun. Enjoying the creative process is not necessarily about being a maestro. It's about enjoying doing something outside of the box,” says Mair.

Create ensures that all projects are free to the participants to help eliminate barriers to entry, thinking about the needs to ensure that everybody can experience the joy of creativity. Opening up opportunities, allowing people the freedom to explore and creating a space free of judgement An approach which can help create the space where people from all walks of life can reach their creative potential. 

Related Tags

Inclusion Creativity