Creativity and innovation: Downey in the 21st Century

IBM recently conducted a survey where over 1,500 Chief Executive Officers concluded that creativity is the most important leadership skill for a successful business. Every company has some form of creativity within it, whether it be science, marketing, or design. This sounds great for artists, but how do we prepare all kids to be creative, innovative, and spontaneous? How do we ensure all kids are prepared for a successful future?

The growing concern in the United States is that not enough students are prepared with the skills needed to enter the labor force. In an attempt to address this issue, the CORE Standards and STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) education were adopted in schools across the country. However, an integral component was missing in this conversation, art education. Art education reinforces the skill set of critical thinking, collaboration, communication, and creativity, which are necessary to compete in the 21st century economy. In order to prepare students for the jobs of today and the jobs of the future, we must engage all students in arts and creative studies along with STEM education to nurture high achievement in all areas of study.

Art education and the arts tap into our creativity, develops an innovative mindset, and facilitates collaboration through exploration. Art stretches your imagination to places that the known physical world can not take you. Art takes you to a place where creativity and innovation lives. A place where we can leverage exponential technology such as nanotechnology, neuroscience, and 3D printing.

In our current economic landscape, companies rely heavily on the STEM workforce. For example, the majority of Apple employees have a background in STEM related fields. However, what separates Apple from other companies and makes them highly valued is its focus on art and design. Without the arts, Apple would not be the most profitable company in our history.

We are living in times of massive unpredictability and future generations are and will face unprecedented challenges. Challenges that are going to demand high levels of innovation, creativity, and ingenuity. There are more people living on our planet now than any other time in our history. We are feeling strains on our world’s natural resources. We have issues with our financial institutions, health care, and education. We need “out of the box” thinkers to be able to solve these monumental problems with creative solutions and for that to happen we need to integrate arts and creativity into our schools. Our task is to help students bring out their inner creativity and give them a chance at success in the 21st century creative economy.

Downey’s rich history is embedded with stories of innovation, entrepreneurship, and scientific exploration. Our archives are littered with individuals who set the course for creative endeavors. Sadly, when space exploration ended, so did the need to champion for the arts. This city prided itself as the builders of dreams, the makers of tomorrow. We leveraged our expertise, intelligence, and imagination to build rockets to examine unimaginable areas in space. Today, we find ourselves with the opportunity to usher in a new generation of leaders. Leaders who can redesign our future as the past generations designed ours.

Joseph Manacmul is director of operations for Stay Gallery.