No-one could argue the importance of creativity and this year we looked at the power of art, music, film and other forms of creativity in our Creative Matters Spotlight series.
With Alice Skinner as our artist in residence for the series, we examined how art in many different forms has been used as a tool for protest and also the impact it has in business and why it’s important in many walks of life. But what did we learn?
The ways music can inspire
Amika George, founder of the #FreePeriods campaign, shared her go to playlist for inspiration and motivation in her campaigning work.
Understandably, Beyoncé’s ‘Flawless’ is among the list. “I can’t listen to this ultimate feminist anthem without feeling inspired, and the incredible excerpts of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s ‘We Should All Be Feminists’ speech will forever serve to remind me why our fight for gender equality is so necessary and important,” Amika explained.
Also on George's list was ‘A Change is Gonna Come’ by Sam Cooke. “Inspired by Cooke’s personal experiences of racism in 1960s America, I think this song epitomises the importance of hope, and the power of individuals to persevere in their fight for justice and equality, no matter how oppressive or demoralising the circumstances. I’ll always remember it being performed during Black History Month at my school - there wasn't a dry eye in the house, as everyone was left feeling moved and inspired in equal measure.”
The power of photography
Richard Branson revisited his roots at Student magazine during this Spotlight series to review some of the incredible photography and reporting that they did.
“Student magazine provided a voice for young activists, who wanted to see real change in the world we were growing up in. Alongside stories about music and popular culture, we used the magazine as a vehicle to protest against the Vietnam and Biafran wars.
“Student had a team of great writers, creating high quality, punchy journalism, but when it came to articles about war and conflict we knew imagery was the only way to tell the hard-hitting truth. Enlisting the help of British photographer Don McCullin – who has since been labelled the world’s greatest living war photographer – we were able to really convey the shocking reality of war.
“Back then I viewed Don as a hero. Looking back at his work now, I still do. War photographers jeopardise their safety in order to shed light on the world’s most awful tragedies.”
How art can form community
One of our writers also looked at how street art in a suburb of Bristol helped to bring a community together when united in a cause.
“Stokes Croft isn’t like most suburbs. Even in a creative, modern city like Bristol, that was known for its culture of shunning big business in favour of supporting local suppliers way before it became trendy, Stokes Croft stands out from the crowd.
“There is one thing that represents everything that Stokes Croft stands for: the street art that covers almost every wall, shop front and blank space in the area.
“It’s not a few sketches done with a can of spray paint. The street art consists of incredibly detailed, well-planned and usually politically motivated murals.
“When planning permission for the small Tesco store was granted, there was uproar. The way the community saw it, profit was being put before people, and it made them angry.
“But despite the community’s fierce objections, the Tesco store was opened in 2011. For some communities, that might have been the end of the story. Not in Stokes Croft.
“Peaceful protests were planned, which descended into full-blown riots that made national news, with blame being cast on both sides.
“Although tempers in the community cooled off over time, a steadfast determination not to be defeated remained. So the community fought back in one of the best and most powerful ways they knew: by adorning the walls with street art.”