The Art & Science of Creativity
“So, Four Artists and Two Scientists Walk Into A Theatre…”
Apparently, there was some local commotion on Twitter on September 9th. The epicentre of the disturbance was London’s Grand Theatre, where tweets were being released with hashtags including #GrandMatch (more on that to come). The event was the inaugural outing of The Art & Science of Creativity.
The first A&SoC was a two-hour incubator hosted by Rick Miller at the beautiful Grand Theatre, and sponsored by Ellipsis Digital. The invitation-only event was created as a new patron experience for The Grand, one intended to spark some energy and build community around the idea of creativity. The theatre itself is an amazing space, and a crucial part of this city’s cultural fabric. There’s a strong and vibrant creative community in London—what better place than The Grand to gather these people for an evening to discuss and discover creativity?
The seed had been planted during a production from The Grand’s 2014-15 season. Rick Miller, creator and performer in the one-man show BOOM, took part in a mini-panel/Q&A session after one of the shows. The result was an energetic discussion that the audience really enjoyed. The folks at The Grand knew they were on to something exciting, and built on the idea, deciding to create a unique event to kick off their 2015-6 season. And as soon as we heard about it, we agreed that they were on to something exciting, and stepped up as the lead sponsor.
The evening was a panel discussion, led by Miller, with presentations by a diverse group of thinkers, innovators and leaders in the arts and sciences:
- Dora and Gemini award-winning writer, performer, director (BOOM, Twenty Thousand Leagues Under The Sea); Artistic Producer of internationally acclaimed WYRD Productions and host of ABC’s hit primetime series Just for Laughs. Entertainment Weekly has called him “one of the 100 most creative people alive today.”
- Award-winning director from St. John’s, Newfoundland; founder of Artistic Fraud of Newfoundland, Artistic Director of the National Arts Centre English Theatre; director of Alice Through the Looking-Glass and The Diary of Anne Frank for the Stratford Festival.
- Vice President and Creative Director of KIDOONS Network, co-creator of Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea, and Vice President Logograph software. His art direction, illustrations, campaigns, and voices have been enjoyed by millions of children and educators worldwide.
- Internationally recognized Canadian art director and graphic designer, recently heralded by Rockport Publishing as one of "The 30 New Poster Masters."
- Appointed in 2012 as the first dean of Ryerson University's Faculty of Science and a passionate advocate for the support and promotion of girls and women in science
- Founder of Ecoloodi, a bilingual non-profit organization dedicated to teaching children the importance of preserving water resources and aquatic ecosystems through science, art, and play
Each of the panelists, except for Keiley, did a short presentation about creativity from his or her unique perspective. And unique they were...
Miller presented first, and talked about his creative process. Craig Francis, a creative collaborator of Miller’s, spoke about iteration in the creative process, and revealed that the first attempt is rarely the final version, much to the relief of many of the artists in attendance. Environmental scientist and water engineer Ludiwine Clouzot illustrated the role that creativity plays in science, and talked about using storytelling to teach kids about science.
Andrew Lewis, a former London resident who’s recently returned, talked about how he combines elements in his posters to create deeper meaning. While he spoke primarily about his work for social justice issues, he also illustrated the process he went through in creating the posters for the upcoming season at The Grand. Dr. Imogen Coe spoke about how Art and creativity are essential in scientific research, suggesting that “STEM” (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) should actually be “STEAM” (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, Math).
Between the presentations, Miller was a lively host, engaging the other panelists with insightful and interesting questions. While Keiley didn’t make a presentation, her personal and frank insights into creativity, especially in the world of theatre, were a highlight of the panel discussion.
As is fitting for an evening in the theatre, there was an intermission, during which all of the guests participated in a game that hit Twitter as #GrandMatch. Rick Miller had introduced the game at the start of the evening, pointing out name tags attached to each seat. The name tags were each part of a pair, like R2D2 and C3PO, or milk and cookies, or Tony Stark and Pepper Potts. The game was simple: find your match, tweet the photo, and Ellipsis Digital would donate five dollars to the Grand Theatre’s fall High School Project, Hello, Dolly. We made multiples of all of the tags to make finding your match more likely.
— Elaine Simpson (@rvelaine) September 10, 2015
— Keith Tomasek (@FestivalReviews) September 10, 2015
— Mallory MacLeod (@mmacle33) September 10, 2015
It was wonderful to watch the interaction. Because the pairs came from so many sources—geeky, artsy, pop culture—conversations began between strangers who recognized the references and those who didn’t. And between those on Twitter and and those who didn’t know a “tweet” from a chirp. The sometimes jarring generational divide between digital natives and their elders became just another topic of discussion, with the “youngsters” (and we use this term very loosely—there were people of all ages participating, and a few seniors were flashing the latest technology) taking the photos when needed, and sending them into the Twittersphere. All told, there were 77 photos that hit Twitter, for a total of $385, but we were so delighted by the amount of interaction that we rounded the donation up to $500.
— Ellipsis.Digital (@EllipsisDigital) September 10, 2015
The guest list was put together by The Grand, and it was a diverse group of the theatre’s patrons and friends (sponsors, donors, advertisers), along with many of London’s community, cultural, scientific and academic thought leaders. We heard from our grand Grand contacts that some of the people who attended were also fans of ours, which confirmed for all of us (as if there were any doubt) that this partnership is a truly great fit. We also had a good showing from both the Ellipsis Digital and Engine SevenFour teams, which isn't terribly surprising—we practice the art & science of creativity every day.
The event was a great mix of art and science, with thought-provoking ideas coming from all of the panelists. While the topic ostensibly was creativity, it could have just as easily been the science of art or the art of science. For all of the panelists, no matter their discipline, questioning and curiosity is an important part of the process. And they all agreed that with a healthy bit of curiosity, we can all be artists and creators.
Where do you find your creativity? Tell us in the comment section below.
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With a diploma in media writing and a degree in geology, copywriter Laurie Bursch is a creative who knows her way around both art and science.