First published on November 2011.
Imagine being constantly labelled and identified with limiting stereotypes. Well, that was my experience, as it is for many young black males, during most of my youth, which is the time when, like everyone else, I developed my identity and character. It was during this time that I created B.R.A.T (Beyond Recognition And Trend) to challenge and separate myself from the limitations and negativity by which I was surrounded and identified. This is my testimony to the power of creativity and self-expression, as the simple act of creating B.R.A.T has directed my life ever since its manifestation, leading to me winning an UnLtd award and a grant to establish B.R.A.T Presents Ltd as an organization committed to the mission of ‘moving young people to create the lives they deserve’.
It is clear that today’s youth are becoming increasingly marginalised and disenfranchised in society as a result of record levels of youth unemployment and other political, social and economic factors. As it has been said, ‘Creativity is the ability to generate innovative ideas and manifest them from thought into reality’ (Albert Einstein) and, ‘The creative act, the defeat of habit by originality, overcomes everything’ (George Lois). These statements articulate and encompass the key to unlocking young people’s potential and creativity.
It was while working at a leading creative agency that I first truly embraced and understood the power of creativity. During my time in the advertising industry, I realised the value of the conscious creative processes that exists in the advertising industry. I also recognised that it was becoming essential for young people like me to develop their collaboration, leadership and creativity skills, as these skills are key to thriving in the emerging age of globalised economies, scarce resources and deeply complex challenges. Through this understanding and experience, B.R.A.T Presents Ltd has developed a programme and curriculum entitled, ‘Don’t set yourself to formula’, which is designed to ready young people for the creative economy.
The fact is that, in the 21st century, jobs and competitiveness depend absolutely on the very qualities that school systems are being forced to tone down. Businesses everywhere say they need people who are creative and can think independently. I don’t believe that creativity has ever been underappreciated within society; it’s just that creativity has now become a necessity. It is time we move beyond the existing structures that people are unhappy with and solve the pressing issues of our time: namely, climate change, inequity, inequality and moral injustice. These challenges are only going to be addressed through creative solutions, just as I had to create and manifest B.R.A.T to address the challenge of limiting stereotypes.
‘No country which wishes to secure the future of its citizens can, or even may, afford to leave undetected and unsupported a major part of the intellectual and creative abilities of its young people’ UNESCO.
Illustrations by Paul Davis - http://copyrightdavis.blogspot.com/