We were delighted to host the international symposium Amateur Creativity: Inter-disciplinary Perspectives at the University of Warwick, UK, 17-18 September 2015
Amateur creativity is enjoying renewed vitality in the twenty-first century, reflecting deep cultural changes. Amateur performers, critics, authors and musicians can reach global audiences through blogs, youtube, ebooks and many other forms of social media, a cultural practice set to increase as digital technology becomes increasingly accessible. There is a revival of interest in folk art and craft, with some amateur bakers, knitters and gardeners becoming TV celebrities and others turning their skills to guerrilla performance, slow art or political activism. Organisations that have long supported amateur creativity, such as the Women’s Institute, The National Allotment Society, The Embroiders Guild and National Operatic and Dramatic Society are thriving, with many gaining new and younger members. Disaporic communities often maintain links with the cultural traditions and heritage of ‘home’ through craft and different forms of performance, many of which exist outside the boundaries associated with professional activity in the West. Amateur creativity in the twenty-first century is redefining what it means to be a professional, with profound cultural consequences.
In the academy there is a resurgence of interest in amateur creativity, regarded as a vital alternative to the commodified creative industries and to forms of cultural practice that reflect only the tastes of the metropolitan élite. At the same time, the parameters of professional research is becoming porous, as amateur researchers are encouraged to gather data, shape research agendas and become co-producers of knowledge. The twenty-first century is set to loosen the idea of amateurism from its association with failure and poor quality work, and to reassert the significance of amateur creativity to communities, individuals and the wider ecologies of cultural participation.
There is a terrific blog on the symposium by Jonathan Goss, researcher on the BBC's Get Creative project: