The 2021 Pop Convergence: A Virtual Pop Conference, April 22-25th
Artwork by Alex Nero; Design by The Art Dictator
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Saturday, April 24 • 10:00am - 11:15am
What is the Creative? Rethinking the Social Value of Creativity in the Absence of Live Space (Room A: Sky Church)

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What is the Creative? Rethinking the Social Value of Creativity in the Absence of Live Space (Room A: Sky Church)

We propose that the function of creativity has been distorted by the neolliberal economic structure, but the pandemic is a point of rupture seismic enough to force us to to re-imagine the role and value of the artist. We explore the way in which the capitalist alignment of artistry with income, creative practice with revenue and success with profit is fundamentally at odds with the ethos of art and creativity. We also look to the fourth industrial revolution as a pending/present technological and societal flux which adds a layer of complication for many artists, in particular musicians who, somewhat ironically, have often been pushed back into live work to sustain their livelihood. We use this moment of global pause to reimagine the role of the artist, including how technology might be used to establish new ways for music makers to survive, prosper and contribute during our moment of need.

When the pandemic hit, most musicians experienced a devastating loss of work, as global touring and live performances were suspended indefinitely. At the same time, the world looked to art for salvation; to escape, to heal, to hope. It became clear that art is not entertainment; it is humanity; in particular the cultivation of human connection and an ability to imagine a future different to—and better than—the one we inhabit. And so we are calling on creatives to step into the role of social curators; asking how we can realise this responsibility and use it to sustain a creative ecosystem as well as transform the world around us. The panel is a group of artists who have all pushed boundaries with their careers, technology and societal commitments, alongside a senior software engineer and myself—a producer and curator—as moderator.

We explore if the role of the artists can now be detached from the revenue they generate, and whether the intellectual labour of imagination is the foundation for building a new future. In this model, can we conceptualise art as a career that should be subsidised by governments—or can we establish cooperative organisations in which artists generate mutually supporting income streams and revenue possibilities? What functions of the music industry should we bring forward with us, and what should we leave behind? What can we contribute, what can we share, and what can we do to help our community and those beyond it?

Across all these questions we also ask how technology can be used to support these futures in ways that benefit the artists instead of the traditional gatekeepers of money and power within the industry.

The roundtable is a virtual cookout in which everyone brings a ‘dish’ to the table, an idea or proposal of how they would like to move the role of the creative forward, to be shared, sampled and debated around the room.

avatar for Tavia Nyong'o

Tavia Nyong'o

Chair and Professor of Theater and Performance Studies, Yale University
Tavia Nyong’o writes about, curates, and teaches art and performance. His two books, The Amalgamation Waltz(2009) and Afro-Fabulations (2018) have been well received in the field of performance studies. He is a long time attendee of Pop Conference and is currently William Lampson... Read More →

avatar for Freda Knowles (she/her)

Freda Knowles (she/her)

A curator and producer who has specialised in aligning art and activism, Freda Knowles has produced live music across the world as well as founded a number of initiatives that seek to develop the ways in which creativity can enact social change. Recent projects include Lift Every... Read More →
avatar for Christian Scott

Christian Scott

A native of New Orleans, Christian Scott is a modern jazz music artist, trumpeter and composer. Raised in a family of legendary musicians, Scott’s musical approach attempts to “stretch” jazz’s rhythmic, melodic and harmonic conventions to encompass as many other musical forms... Read More →
avatar for Shabaka Hutchings

Shabaka Hutchings

One of the leading figures of the UK’s creative scene, Shabaka Hutchings embraces the kinetic intensity of his native Barbados, as well as elements from the punk, dance, electro and jazz worlds in his diverse, diasporic style. He has forged strong bonds with South Africa as well... Read More →
avatar for Sarah Elizabeth Charles

Sarah Elizabeth Charles

Sarah Elizabeth Charles is a vocalist/composer based in New York City whose work is rooted in the power of art to articulate change. She has led her own band, SCOPE, for ten years; recorded three critically acclaimed studio albums under her own name, and has collaborated and recorded... Read More →
avatar for Samora Pinderhughes

Samora Pinderhughes

Samora Pinderhughes is a composer/pianist/vocalist known for striking intimacy and carefully crafted, radically honest lyrics alongside high-level musicianship. He is also known for his use of music to examine sociopolitical issues and fight for change.Samora is the first-ever Art... Read More →
avatar for Talib Nelson

Talib Nelson

A self-taught software engineer, Talib Nelson is senior architect for the media giant Shutterstock alongside creating and running a tastemaker music site This Is Real Music which has been promoting underground and emerging artists for over a decade. His passion for tech is rooted... Read More →

Saturday April 24, 2021 10:00am - 11:15am PDT
Room A: Sky Church