Create. Innovate. Grow. The European Year of Creativity and Innovation closes in Stockholm

A snowstorm raged as the second day of the European Year of Creativity and Innovation closing conference ‘Create. Innovate. Grow.’ came to an end. At a concluding panel discussion, the participants agreed that increased international cooperation and getting more young people involved are key factors to increase creativity and innovation (© text: © photo: Anne Nilsson/Regeringskansliet).
Create. Innovate. Grow. The European Year of Creativity and Innovation closes in Stockholm

The concluding conference ‘Create. Innovate. Grow.’ served as a meeting place, in which policy-creation themes was discussed from a European perspective. The importance of creativity and innovation for the development of the individual and society was highlighted during the conference. The conference was arranged jointly by the International Programme Office for Education and Training and the Government Offices and was held at Clarion Hotel Sign in Stockholm.

Creativity was a thread running through the entire design of the conference, with Swedish schools having designed the concept of the conference. Forsberg School of Graphic Design, the University College of Dance, the Adolf Fredrik Music School, Cirkus Cirkör and Södra Latin School worked together to create a concept that was appreciated by the conference delegates. Throughout the conference, participants encountered the idea of Fusion 1+1=1, in which two things are amalgamated into a new, stronger unit. The concept was created by pupils at Forsbergs School of Graphic Design & Advertising.

Good examples in a digital exhibition

During the conference a number of plenary seminars and workshops was held. These drew attention to creativity in different parts of the educational system, technological innovations and the importance of entrepreneurship. At the conference, good examples from various creative and innovative activities that have taken place around Europe was shown in a digital exhibition.
Participating in the creation of the conference were pupils from a number of Swedish schools: Forsberg’s International Graphic Design School, Cirkus Cirkör, Södra Latin, Adolf Fredrik´s Music Classes and the University College of Dance.

The conference target group

The conference was intended for decision-makers from Member States’ ministries and government agencies, the European Commission, EU institutions and other actors working with innovation and creativity issues.

Representatives from different sectors of society participated in the panel discussion in the last day of the conference, from the business sector to the cultural sector. Shima Niavarani, dramatist and actor, wanted to see more active work to identify, seek out and support creative people. A task that can be challenging. "You don't have to be an artist to be creative, you can be creative when you work in business", says Ms Niavarani.

"Innovation is global, we must work together", said Anna Kirah from consultancy firm CPH Design. "We must equip everyone with the skills needed to actively participate in the process."

Prominent figures have been ambassadors

The European Year of Creativity and Innovation is a collaboration between the EU institutions and the Member States. During the year, 27 prominent figures, including researcher and Nobel Prize winner Rita Levi-Montalcini and designer Philippe Starck, have acted as ambassadors for the year.

On Thursday morning, the four ambassadors present, Karlheinz Brandenburg, Damini Kumar, Ernő Rubik and Dominique Langevin, presented their manifesto. In the manifesto they called for initiatives to be encouraged by means of awards and support for intellectual property rights, and for the ‘reinvention’ of the education system to help ensure quality and creativity at all levels. This was an issue to which the panel discussion also returned. However, Roger O’Keeffe from the European Commission underlined the importance of making changes to the entire education system and not focusing on the contribution of individual teachers or pupils.

On the second day of the conference, the photography competition ‘Imagine a New World’ was also highlighted. The competition is part of the European Year of Creativity and Innovation. The winner was Daniel Halasz with a series of photographs on the theme of a new world without borders.

"Not an end point"

Even if the Year of Creativity and Innovation is drawing to a close, many of the participants did not want to view the conference as an end point.
"‘Closing’ is the wrong term to describe this conference. This is not an end, but rather the end of the beginning", said Pete Kercher from the organisation Design for All Europe, who attended the conference. "It was encouraging to see the commitment to these issues. The conference has been a fitting conclusion to the year."

Jolanta Treile from the Latvian Ministry of Culture also appreciated the conference. Above all, she appreciated the fact that the conference provided an arena for many different people to meet.
"It was an unusual conference, but it has been exciting and it has felt very innovative", said Ms Treile.

Innovation in the fight against poverty

After the European Year of Creativity and Innovation comes the European Year for Combating Poverty and Social Exclusion. In the panel discussion, Joakim Palme, Managing Director of the Institute for Future Studies, noted that innovation is an important ingredient of this work as well. "There are innovations out there that can help to combat poverty. We must not fall into the trap of looking at it as a policy to deal with the poor parts of the world, but rather something from which everyone benefits."

The Swedish Presidency is also drawing to a close. After the panel discussion, Luis Delgado from the upcoming Spanish Presidency talked about how the work on these issues will continue.

The day rounded off with Swedish traditions in the form of two St Lucia processions. The first procession was by Cirkus Cirkör. The audience got to meet a two-and-a-half metre tall Lucia, a beatboxing Santa Claus and a juggling star boy. The second Lucia procession was more traditional, with pupils from the Adolf Fredrik Music School, and was a procession that moved the day’s moderator Katti Hoflin, and no doubt one or two others in the audience, to tears.

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