The rise of the dr@m@teurs

Here come The dr@m@teurs

With the digital universe, we, the people, have got what we’ve been waiting to reclaim.
The means and opportunities to realise our artistic creative dreams. To design, make, share, and even sell, our ideas, objects, productions, you-name-it.

The revolution in sophisticated yet relatively simple software and social media platforms for 2D and performing arts, available for low cost or free, is enabling us amateurs to realise our creative energy. To develop our creativity to share or sell. To compete for the discretionary dollar and funding.

We no longer have to be just audiences and consumers of professional creativity, deferring to those with the designated talent, qualifications or brands. We too can be in the flow, in the zone.
Thanks to the web, we’ve become digitally revved up amateurs – the dr@m@teurs.
We are the hackers of the professional arts industries and ecosystems. We’re using these new tools to cut through the monopoly on taste, art, and culture that has been, until the advent of social media and creative software for amateurs, the domain of professional performers, critics and curators. The futureNOW is on our side.

This movement might have begun with those who saw ourselves as photographers, authors, singers, musicians, video and film makers. Creative talents with a natural fit for the digital world. Or, as Richard Hull puts it, the digital natives are the entertainment.

Now we’ve been joined by people who want to express themselves as artists, teachers, makers, citizen scientists, fashion designers and stylists. Of course, young children are well into developing their digital talents. Add in 3d rapid prototyping, and the digital becomes a truly multi-dimensional universe for creative amateurs. And creativity has become redefined as amateurs create, mash and hack our way into audience spaces across the world thanks to social media.

It seems to be happening too fast for academic inquiry into serious leisure pursuits to really have it on their radar but some are starting to tune in. But to paraphrase Douglas Rushkoff, programme or be programmed. Exercise the opportunities for creativity or be captive to the narrow monetising forces of digital media

Our brains have been waiting for this. We’re built with a not-invented-here bias. We’re hardwired to have extra appreciation for any creative work that we’ve done. We appreciate our own solutions even though objectively, they might be inferior to those created by professionals. But they’re OURS. And that matters more than professional aesthetic judgements.

Social media means that we can also find others, many others, who also like our ‘stuff’, and social commerce means we can make money through people who are willing to Like and/or pay for it. We have distribution platforms like never before, and with crowdfunding we can find finance, and invest in and give to fellow creatives.

So what does it mean if you’re an arts professional? Are dr@m@teurs your competition? Or the beginning of the end for professional standards? Only if you take a short term view. dr@m@teurs welcome opportunities to connect with professionals, to learn from you, to feel like they can belong to your community. So you have opportunities to create a community that they can be part of, and to monetise some aspects of your relationship.

It might mean you have to do a JFK and think not of what they can do for your self-actualisation but what you can do for theirs. It might mean remembering that it’s only been a short time in human history that the distinction between amateurs and professionals has existed. Since the invention of forms of technology that enabled paid for publishing and performance rather than around the fire or square performances by amateurs.

The smart thinking money has begun to create opportunities for professional creatives to help people express their creativity, and share the professional experience. As Dan Ariely notes, the Betty Crocker syndrome means that, as an amateur, you only have to do enough to feel like it’s all your creation, even if you’ve put together parts created by someone else. As a creative arts professional, helping dr@m@teurs gives you two revenue streams: helping them develop their creativity, and having new audiences for your creativity

The rise of the dr@m@teur has not been without its critics but social media has permanently moved the world of creativity from one of scarcity (aka professionals) to one of abundance. To one of distributed and co-created authority, where the intrinsic pleasure of creation is finding resonance with other dr@m@teurs.

Just as the news media professionals are having to adjust to challenges to their traditional roles as experts and gatekeepers, and facilitate and curate multi-participant news conversations, professional arts practitioners need to welcome the vibrancy that dr@m@teurs bring to the world of arts and performance.

Get ready to love them for dr@m@teurs as essential elements of our creativity ecology.