The Creative Generation – or Gen C – is a term taken from consumer marketing, used to describe an intergenerational group of people who care deeply about creation, culture, connection, and community. From 2019-2020, a body of research has documented the term and its use within the arts, culture, and education sectors to explore the question: How do artists, educators, and cultural leaders cultivate the creative capacities in the next generation?
Beginning with a literature review, and a series of focus groups in the U.S. context to examine the dominant narratives of how the specified field talks about the outcomes of arts and cultural education, the author refined the research questions to be as follows:
• How can young people be supported in the pursuit of creative community action?
• How can adults – such as artists, educators, and community leaders – be supported in their work supporting the development of young people as catalysts for creative community action? And lastly,
• How can both young people and adults who are committed to creative community action, navigate the strict systems which govern their work?
Through a series of 30 case studies from 24 nations, the author examined responses through a western, democratic, globalized, and post-colonial lens, to draw conclusions about the tactics and strategies utilized by arts and cultural programs and their leaders to cultivate the capacities of young people to catalyze creative community change. In a series of papers, two paradigm shifts were proposed:
• More deeply connecting issues of policy, pedagogy, and practice in learning environments; and
• Shifting the role of cultural institutions to be that of civic institutions.
The author draws on examples from global case studies to illuminate these paradigm shifts and proposes new pathways for the cultivation of leaders operating at the intersection of arts/culture, education/youth development, and social justice.