Leading creative projects and musical chairs

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I sat with a colleague recently and shared some thoughts about doing creative projects in African countries. We both agreed that we would love to spend more time doing work of this sort and spoke of the possible outlets for showcasing the work we could create.

Then we started thinking more deeply and darkly about the fact that there don’t seem to be enough situations where we could create the work, managing to maintain our own requirements for conducive conditions and standards of work. It isn’t of the utmost importance to me to have the same work conditions that I would find, working in the UK or countries of that ilk. My personal misgivings are more to do with the mindsets of the potential teams of collaborators and also the audiences.

At the end of the day, creating artistic work is essentially about making symbols. The technology and other trappings that are used in Hollywood movies or Broadway musicals can influence the slickness of the production values, but the symbols are the objects that last through the ages. If teams of creative collaborators can focus on making rounded statements, it shouldn’t matter whether or not those statements are presented in a flashy or earthy way.

Is there a problem with “the vision thing” in many of the African creative situations? Are there lessons to be taught in the education systems of various African countries about team playing and learning to pull together for the greater good of seeing projects through to fulfilling fruition?

Somehow, I sense that the answers to these questions could be helpful in dealing a wide range of settings, from political parties to healthcare systems. The fact that a person emerges as the leader in one creative team doesn’t mean that he or she is elevated to a higher level of being human. In fact, many people who have well developed leadership skills and talents are also aware of the need to constantly recharge their creative batteries, through stepping back to allow others to lead them in other situations. Leading a creative team is usually a temporary task.