Building a Creative Class

الإثنين 16 شباط 2009

Written By Ramsey G. Tesdell
In a December 23rd column in the Jordan Times Newspaper, economist Yusuf Mansour asked a pretty basic question, “Can Jordan become a creative economy where young people’s ideas, those with the most creative minds in the world, can be translated into a powerful industry worth billions of dollars?” He then followed this column up with one describing the obstacles to the creative economy.

First off, the website was a brilliant idea. Finally, someone with a mainstream voice, decided to take advantage of all the social technology and new media technologies available to them, and put the community back into the discussion. For far too long, newspapers and the government in this country have tabled the most important aspect, the people. Kudos to the website and kudos to those contributing to the conversation online.

One thing Jordan has an abundance of, is young people; so that isn’t an obstacle to the creative economy. But from the discussion that followed Mansour’s column and the website that was setup up as place to continue the discussion, it is certain that there are plenty of obstacles that are blocking Jordan’s economy from becoming a creative economy.

More than 30 people have joined the discussion, and have contribute discussion topics and responded to other discussions. A wide selection of topics, including liberal education as a tool for creativity, discussions on media, and how to remove the 10,000 obstacles to creativity have each spawned lively discussions with people from all different types of backgrounds participating.

One contributor suggest the following as a way to start building creatives, by focusing on the three tracks:
1- Education: With the proper eduction you will create the qualified people who will help you solve all development challenges.
2- Small / Medium business: Due to economical depression, I think small and medium business will have a major role in economical development and the level of creativity and flexibility in those kind of companies are much higher compared with big corporations. Laws and financial system must be redesigned to serve and empower this purpose.
3- Political lifestyle: Politics have a major role in development process. It’s a real indicator that shows how much the society is aware and developed.. it will also pave the way for more development and progress on all kind of fields.

Another person suggested that media plays an important role by saying:
“Do you think our Media in the Arab world is helping in creating mature, talented and creative young people who can think out of the box?? and will our children and young jordanians have their own identity if they don’t even think of watching their jordanian channel , or maybe don’t have anything in the jordanian media that can be the least interesting to them ? Media is very important .. how can it attract them to useful yet interesting fun stuff?”

And in the latest post, Mansour asks how we go about building the creative economy. He developed a format to push the conversation forward. So how do we do it? Mansour thinks you need to 1. develop a creative demand, 2. provide more creative products, 3. develop creative resources (entrepreneurs, works, equipment) and 4. cross-pollinate disciplines and carry a more multidisciplinary focus.

While a creative economy seems like a great idea, it is subject to a long-term commitment. This isn’t like the ICT endeavor where you quickly train a couple thousand people how to set up databases and get certifications on this or that technology. Building a creative economy will require fundamental changes to the educational system, the political system, and will no doubt shake the current business and political elite. This resistance will and can be overcome, but it won’t happen easily nor will happen quickly. A sustained effort is required. It will take some time to develop the actors in the field to sustain a creative economy.

You cannot have a democracy without democrats. You cannot have a revolution without revolutionaries. You can not have reform without reformers. And you cannot have a creative economy without a creative class. Build a creative class, and you will be building your creative economy at the same time.

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