November 7, 2017

Creativity, as defined by web is said to be the creation of artistic work using one’s aesthetic imagination. However, some of the most creative minds of the nation, have raised some dissecting points on this definition at a recently held breakout session namely ‘Leveraging Creativity through Digital Platforms’, hosted by Bangladesh Creative Forum.

Moderated by Shariful Islam, Founder & Managing Director, Editor of Bangladesh Brand Forum, on the eve of Digital Marketing Summit 2017  the inventive and dissevering breakout session took place in a panel discussion format in the presence of Nazim Farhan Choudhury, Managing Director, ADCOMM Ltd., Nazia Andaleeb Preema, Visual Artist, Director & Creative Editor of Bangladesh Brand Forum; Mustapha Khalid Palash, Chief Architect & MD of Vistaara Architect; Samia Zaman, Film-maker and Media Personality; and Karim Waheed, Editor of SHOUT, The Daily Star.

Although we live in an era where industries worldwide are encouraging individuals to furnish creative expressions and design thinking at work, creative leaders in our country recognize how creativity is not even nurtured. Ms. Nazia Andaleeb sheds light on this matter from her personal experience saying, once searching for ideas for building a character, her team visited an art school. In a day long engagement event, 5 to 11-years-old students were asked to draw using their imagination with the promise of the most unique art piece being rewarded. Alarmingly, despite having no boundaries, 80% of the children ended up drawing one painting as that’s the only one they are taught in school. This only reinforces, as the experts claim, that even the most noble and well recognized form of creative expression in a child, which is art, lacks nurturing and is suppressed by manipulation.

Observing a gap this significant, Bangladesh Brand Forum (BBF) has launched a new platform – Bangladesh Creative Forum (BCF) – a vision founded and led by Nazia Andaleeb Preema. She mentioned that our society often fails to realize that our way of life is itself a creative expression. Coming from a creative field, her journey as an artist was very lonesome as people would disconnect with her work considering themselves as ‘not creative enough’ to understand her expressions. One does need to be an artist to be creative. A doctor, scientist, innovator, revolutionist and everyone thinking outside the line to bring a meaningful change is a creative individual. This is where she formed her vision on establishing this platform, where we can gather as a community to work towards bringing a revolutionary change on how we look at the term ‘Creativity’ as an expression.

Ms. Samia Zaman starts with our historical relationship with creativity. According to her, creativity requires thinking outside the box and historically, as a nation, we have never confined ourselves within rules. Since 1952, from the Language Movement to sowing the patterns of Jamdani & Muslin, we have demonstrated creativity as an innate characteristic. The discussion focused on ways to reignite our creative power that has died or has been altered over generations due to societal norms. The brief outcome of the dialogue was to first initiate a reform to change the definition and then to progress further to bring about a massive change.

According to Mustapha Khalid Palash, to appreciate art, we need a discerning audience. At first, the generations need to be acquainted with forms of art such as music, plays and paintings. Through digital connectivity everyone can access any form of creative innovation, become aware of and participate in the creative revolution. The skills of the future are, compassion and understanding others. In the era of emotional intelligence these soft skills are key factors behind the success stories of our neighboring countries, India and China.

Nazim Farhan Choudhury stated that creativity is an application of how we look at things differently. “While walking through the Gulshan – Badda link road at night, you will see street hawkers selling their merchandise under gleaming lights. If you look closely you will see that the electricity comes from one generator. A generator that has been set up by a man who sells this electricity to the hawkers. In a way he has set up his own power company within a small connectivity. Can we deny that this is not creative?” Mr. Nazim Farhan stresses.

Today, creative agencies are hiring software programmers, analysts alongside the regular professions they did earlier. Why? Because Industrial Revolution now requires dynamism where artists are not the only professionals in the relevant field. In advertising, 60% of the jobs today didn’t exist a few years ago. Algorithm can now create Clapton’s music in his absence. What Bangladesh Creative Forum will do is highlight global innovations and influence our society to look at things differently.

According to the Editor of Shout, Karim Waheed, the newspaper supplement has the youngest content creators. Mostly in their teens, these young poets, fiction & opinion writers, future opinion shapers, graphic designers are leading this youth centric supplement of The Daily Star. The positive sign is that these people are unique intellectuals in thinking and are connected because of the digital age. If not for digital age, these kids with their unique mindset probably would have been treated as outliers in our traditional society. Thanks to various digital platforms, if not physically, virtually they are part of the same network. Although, while still young these individuals connect via Facebook groups making memes combining politics, fiction, humor and intellect, they end up studying something completely out of their skillset and interest. They join the corporate sector as per the society’s expectations and after one year the creativity dies.

The 9-5 culture as seen now after 200 years of colonization is killing the inner artisans of our generations. AI has already taken over a lot of the jobs, and if we do not beat it through creative thinking, we will be defeated. And that is where design thinking comes in. We need to start embracing soft skills and soft influence. As a nation our creativity and soft-skills project our country’s strength. A country that is more receptive to change and is willing to embrace new challenges has a higher probability of acquiring foreign investment.

Our society does not lack aesthetic sensibilities; what it lacks are investments which will help them flourish outside of our historic system. Why are there no investments that one must answer to? What we need is our own space for a creative drive and an aid which will help us explore our conscience, Bangladesh Creative Forum is the platform for adding potent structure and flair to this vision.

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