Democracy and creativity

Creativity relies on openness and its political counterpart is democracy - that is when it actually works. Yet creativity is also the capacity to squeeze through imagination whatever the circumstances; so creativity will also exist in places such as Beijing or Dubai that are undemocratic. Yet it will be circumscribed. A boom town booms. The sheer hype, buzz and activity gives the allure of creativity, but speediness, a building boom and hysteria are no guarantee that it is actually happening. In both the above cities entrepreneurs are seizing opportunities and making money, but again that does not ensure imaginative solutions or products are being created. Inevitably there will be responses reflecting on the feverish development, especially from within the artistic field or environmentalists, and with our global gaze we will take these more seriously. But will they stand the test of time? And, more importantly, in Dubai we have no idea what women could contribute to making the city state a better place. In Shanghai we do not know what could happen if there was far more open debate about the city's development.

Yet they get things done. Quickly. Impressively. It makes democracies feel slow paced, ponderous and lacking in verve. So there is not a simple relationship that says democracy = creativity. Yet equally we know that squeezing liberty too tight leaves little room for imaginative manoeuvre. Totalitarian places are not creative milieux.

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