Supported by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) and the University of Brighton’s Centre for Arts and Wellbeing

‘Everyday creativity’ is characterised by quotidian day-to-day actions that are often understood in terms of little and mini ‘c’ creativity; the former focusing on observable creative actions/products and the latter on more fleeting interpretive and transformative aspects of thought.

Our network seeks to research and communicate these vital quotidian practices, while investigating the meanings, processes and possibilities behind them.

With a welcome to all who seek to understand the creative process and value new ways of thinking, doing and becoming, our growing network hopes to bring together individuals and institutions, researchers, practitioners and the wider public from across the UK and beyond, in order to recognise, research, support and critically unpack the role of creativity in our everyday lives.

Image of Sarah Elwick, University of Brighton taken by Helen Johnson

Creativity is often, in general usage, associated with creative people and ‘elite’ cultural activities within, for example the visual arts, music and theatre. By contrast, ‘everyday creativity’ recognises originality and purpose in a wide range of practices in people’s daily lives. The compass of ‘creative activities’ stretches well beyond traditional and deliberate artistic forms, to a diverse range of immersive activities that millions of people engage with worldwide. This may be both individual and group-based, in the home, online, or in shared community spaces. Everyday creativity thus encompasses such activities as joke-telling, cooking, ‘dressing’ the home, gardening, podcasting and citizen science; activities often removed from established hierarchies, economic models and notions of excellence.

As tentative steps are taken towards a wellbeing economy, these everyday creative actions and activities that people undertake to explore their creative potential, maintain their health and wellbeing, connect to others and to nature, learn and develop, and add meaning and purpose to their lives, become increasingly important. As Ruth Richards (2010) wrote, “Would we humans value everyday creativity more – the ‘originality of everyday life’ – if we knew how much it could do for us?”

What is the International Everyday Creativity Network?

Following a successful and inspiring conference held at the University of Brighton in 2022, the network has been established to understand, recognise,  and critically apply the value of everyday creativity. Funded by the AHRC. this venture will seek to support the unfolding, broadening and democratising of creative processes within the general population, advancing definitions and understandings of creativity in day-to-day lives and enabling future research pathways to be delineated, while contributing to policy debates.

Our work on creativity in the context of day-to-day lives is addressed under 4 guiding themes:

  1. enriching creative research methods
  2. everyday creativity in the home and placemaking (including pandemic responses)
  3. everyday creativity in health and wellbeing
  4. interfaces across arts, science and technology

What is Everyday Creativity?

Everyday creativity is characterised by day-to-day activities that are understood in the broadest terms as being both novel and useful.

Everyday creativity is often understood in terms of little and mini ‘c’ creativity:

  • Mini ‘c’ creativity focuses on more fleeting “interpretive and transformative aspects of thought” (Silvia et al, 2017) that are unique and meaningful for an individual.
  • Little, or small, ‘c’ creativity focuses on small observable actions, products, and what are sometimes termed ‘aha! moments.’ This is often seen as representing a step up from mini ‘c’ creativity since these ideas, actions and products may be of value to others.

Such activities are often removed from established hierarchies, economic models and notions of excellence. They may be individual or facilitated by amateur or voluntary groups. These everyday actions and activities that we undertake to explore our creative potential can add purpose to our lives; they can support our health and wellbeing, enable us to connect to others and to nature, and facilitate our learning and development.

The term, ‘everyday creativity,’ has developed within social science and creativity research, in part from Harvard Medical School and the work of psychologists Ruth Richards, Dennis K Kinney, Maria Benet and Ann P Merzel. In 1988 in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, they introduced the Lifetime Creativity Scales tool, based upon a definition of creativity in terms of actions that are characterised by originality and adaptation. This represented an expansion of creativity research beyond the restrictive implications of skilled, purposeful practitioners and recognised, respected outcomes and towards what they termed a “broad based view of creativity … present to varying degrees in most types of activity”. This working definition opens up new avenues of creativity research. Their subsequent publication, Everyday creativity and new views of human nature: Psychological, social, and spiritual perspectives in 2007, further advanced the field towards better understanding of creative practices in the context of our daily lives.

In 2011, Zorana Ivcevic continued this work with her creation of  a taxonomy of expressive behaviours. Also recognising that creative practice might be more commonly established in formal domains and acknowledged centres for cultural activity, she examined the similarities and differences between artistic and other forms of creativity situated within the everyday, Her work looked at relationships with personality traits, psychological well-being, and psychopathology.

Living creatively: The cultural sector and Arts Council England project

Arts organisations have brought the concept of everyday creativity into wider use within arts communities, in the context of recognised practices based around voluntary groups in shared community spaces. In the wake of the influential Warwick Commission Report into Cultural Value, which recognised the need for evolving cultural ecology, the ACE’s 64 Million Artists in March 2016 moved towards a practical statement at the heart of this new understanding of creativity, adding the thinking of professional artists to that of many and diverse creative people and amateur/voluntary groups. Meeting with 300 professional and everyday artists, cultural organisations, community groups, local authorities, scholars and others, they looked at valuing supporting and democratising creative practices, aiming to understand more about whether, and how, the formal, funded cultural sector should be engaging with everyday creativity.

Join the network and the Centre for Arts and Wellbeing

Our network draws on knowledge and expertise from diverse fields including Arts in Health, Psychology, Sociology, Modern Languages, Film Studies, Cultural Studies, Music and Medical Humanities, Sport, Health and Social Science, and Biological Physics to further understand, and critically explore, the value of everyday creativity. Our aims are:

  1. to widen the academic base for this field, and welcome in community groups and organisations, creative practitioners and international participants;
  2. to develop existing understandings of everyday creativity across boundaries, with reference to transdisciplinarity, the democratisation of knowledge, and broadening the conceptual lens to more readily incorporate non-artistic forms of creativity;
  3. to develop, articulate and interrogate the transformative potential of creative methods within the context of everyday creativity; and
  4. to inform policy in relation to the place of EC in a resilient, sustainable society that supports the health and wellbeing of all its citizens.

You can meet some of the Network team in the video below. (The cat is called Pounce…)

 

References: Everyday Creativity literature

  • Richards, R. ‘Everyday Creativity: Process and Way of Life — Four Key Issues’ in Kaufman, J and Sternberg, R. (2010) The Cambridge Handbook of Creativity , pp. 189 – 215 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511763205.013, Cambridge University Press.
  • Silvia, P J, Cotter, KN, Christensen, AP (2017) ‘The Creative Self in Context: Experience Sampling and the Ecology of Everyday Creativity,’ In Karwowski, M and Kaufman, JC Eds., The Creative Self, Academic Press, 2017
  • Richards, R, Kinney, DK, Benet, M and Merzel, AP (1988). ‘Characteristics of the Lifetime Creativity Scales and validation with three large samples.’ Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 54(3), 476–485. https://doi.org/10.1037/0022-3514.54.3.476,
  • Richards, R. (2007). Everyday creativity: Our hidden potential. In R. Richards (Ed.), Everyday creativity and new views of human nature: Psychological, social, and spiritual perspectives.
  • Zorana Ivcevic (2011) ‘Artistic and Everyday Creativity: An Act-Frequency Approach’, Journal of Creative Behaviour, December 2011