Can creativity save us?


A keen audience filled the Ballroom for Darren Henley, CEO of the Arts Council, Grand Challenges Lecture ‘Can Creativity Save Us’ last Wednesday evening in the Keele Hall Ballroom.

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Darren Henley joined the Arts Council in 2015 having previously spent twenty-five years working in radio, leading Classic FM for fifteen years, first as Managing Editor and then as Managing Director.

Throughout his career, Darren has maintained his unswerving commitment to the importance of a cultural life for all. He has vigorously championed the importance of locating the arts and culture at the heart of education for every child , arguing that that the enjoyment of art and culture is vital to the development of every child’s natural creativity, and that a good cultural education improves happiness and life chances. In his lecture he noted that although creativity is seen as valuable, it is sometimes treated as a reward to be enjoyed once the proper work is done ‘pudding if you like’ when instead, it should be the means by which the work is done , ‘it’s the main course not just something nice for afters’. Alongside numeracy and literacy, creativity is a vitally important part of a child’s education.

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The great potential for the arts and culture in placemaking is high on his agenda. A graduate of the University of Hull, he heartily enjoyed the journey towards the City of Culture 2017. He highlights the impact that sustained and careful strategic cultural investment can have on a place, what this can do to change the perception of the people who live there , their understandings of the place, and maybe even of themselves. On the Stoke City of Culture bid, he praised the hard work and creative energy that has gone into this and whilst Stoke has not been successful on this occasion, his strong message was to keep going. He affirmed the Arts Council’s determination to continue working with the artists, arts organisations, museums and libraries and to drive forward the creative and cultural aspiration of this part of England, which he noted has long had making and creativity at its core.

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If you missed Darren Henley’s talk you can catch up with this here.

Our next Grand Challenges Lecture is on February 21st with Professor Anne Power.