The Creative Activist


By Elena Greco

Photo by Li-An Lim on Unsplash

August 9, 2021

Typical reading time: 2 minutes

I’d like to look at a particular application of creativity: activism.

Creative artists are in a unique position to bring about change or raise awareness of important issues. We already have the public’s attention in some way, in our particular art, in our particular corner of the world. I believe we as creatives have a responsibility to use our already public position and our creative gifts to make the world a better place, in whatever area we’re drawn to.

Why don’t all creative artists participate in activism, when it’s really pretty easy to do so? We’re already using our creative talents and we’re already marketing ourselves publicly in some way, however quietly. So why aren’t we all using our creative voice to promote a better world?

Fear. One reason is fear. To raise awareness of an issue that has a political tinge, for example, makes some of us uncomfortable because we fear the opinions or even the backlash (social media being what it is now) of those who disagree with us. The solution is to become more fearless, or at least not to hide or placate people because you don’t have the courage to stand your ground. If you’re worried about someone disagreeing, or being disagreeable, imagine that happening and create your own script for how you might handle that fearlessly. Rehearsals help!

But it usually isn’t that hard. If you’re a writer, write an essay or article setting out your ideas and post it to social media or put it on your website. Any backlash will be a few Comments that you can easily delete. It actually feels rather nice to delete Comments you don’t like (😎). And there are other ways of confronting the fear around speaking your mind. This particular fear might be hampering your creative expression or your creative output, as well. And that’s something you can resolve though coaching, through introspection, or through journaling.

And if you’re an introvert or someone who really doesn’t like the “active” part of activism, you can do something behind the scenes, such as design posters for a protest or write a script for an effective video.

Selfishness. Another reason for not using your creativity for activism is selfishness. There, I’ve said it. If you really don’t care about the world and the people in it enough to use your creative gift even for a moment to support or promote positive change, what other word is there to use?

Time. You might also think you don’t have the time. There must be a hundred meaningless tasks we do every day without thinking about the waste of time. Taking a stand (yes, declaring an intention with regard to activism is activism!); writing a one-paragraph blog or social media post; sharing a link on social media that you find helpful in making the world, or your country, or your community a better place, maybe adding a short comment to it (even a sentence will do!)—all take one to five minutes. So time is not really a viable reason.

And if you’re willing to spend even a little more of your time, you could spend fifteen minutes a day on developing a creative project that supports the cause you’ve devoted yourself to. At the end of a month or so, you’ll be ready to produce the project. And that project could be good marketing for you, your brand, your company or your ensemble, so it serves a dual purpose: both you and the world win. Whatever you do creatively can also be done as activism. It doesn’t have to be grand.

So don’t wait another minute!

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