Conditions that Foster Creativity

Anna Deavere Smith, from her Chataqua Institution lecture “Looking for Grace,” FORA.tv, September 13, 2009:

I started to think about the conditions that foster creativity. I would say that any modest amount of creativity that I’ve experienced—at least in my adult life—required the following: a restricted environment, uncertainty, independence and responsibility, a lack of safety, the need for change, richness of inner life, need, physical beauty, contradictions, and doubt.

Now, if we were to create a school or community where we wanted to foster creativity, we would probably not seed the growth of those attributes. I think that list would look something like this: an environment where possibility seemed endless, steadiness, a firm foundation, strong mentorship, safety, richness of inner life, provisions, clarity, confidence, and physical beauty.


"My tape recorder and my ear create the necessary distance that allows me to get close to another person."