How the 21st century is revolutionising creativity

“Creativity – like human life itself – begins in darkness.” – Julia Cameron

Creativity is known to be a defining feature of mankind. As humans have adapted and evolved, so too has our ability to express feelings and emotions in exciting and innovative ways. Earth’s ancient tribes would dance to please the Gods, while modern street B-boys lock and pop to the beat; citizens of ancient times wept before tales of theatrical Greek tragedy, while modern populations laugh at existential dilemmas woven through post-war absurdist theatre; predecessors of the 1800s captured crackled stills with the iconic Camera Obscura, while contemporary Vogue snaps flamboyant contortions for high-fashion couture. No matter where you look, creativity is all around us, and it reflects – and has reflected – virtually everything we do.

“Most researchers have pointed to the Upper Paleolithic, around 40,000 years ago, when Homo Sapiens started adorning cave walls with images of Ice Age animals and forging inventive beaded designs and other innovations, as when the early spark of creativity finally caught fire – yielding the kind of rapid-fire innovative thought that characterises our species today,” writes Mariette DiChristina for Scientific American.

“But rather than emerging suddenly, relatively recently in our evolutionary history, our creative powers appear to have developed over hundreds of thousands of years, as various biological and other factors came together,” she adds.

From dance to drama, music, performing arts, technical theatre, even the exciting visual art of contemporary photography, the School of Arts at the University of Derby does its utmost to accommodate every facet of human creativity. A rich programme portfolio perfectly combines academic study with hands-on, practical experience, on top of valuable partnerships with renowned industry professionals.

“Inspiration, stimulation and real-world insight sums up our approach to learning and research across the School of Arts…” writes the Faculty. “We offer a great student experience, always focusing on you as an individual and working hard to prepare you for the challenges of graduate employment in the 21st century,” it adds. “Our courses are current, topical, relevant and designed to help you progress in your career.”

But considering just how far the artistic world – and creativity in general – has advanced since days of old, how have institutions such as Derby’s School of Arts evolved teaching to match the contemporary world? And how exactly has the 21st century revolutionised the concept of creativity?

Performing Arts

Derby’s innovative BA (Hons) Performing Arts programme is the perfect example of how the creative sphere of education has adapted with the times, perfectly blending traditional aspects of the arts with those considered fresh and new. Dance-related modules, for example, span everything from Tap, Ballet, Contemporary and Modern, right up Acro, Street and Hip Hop dance-styles – all of which utilise Déda’s outstanding facilities – mirroring the progression of dance as human creativity flourished through the ages.

Image courtesy of the University of Derby

On top of this, students have the chance to pursue conventional and new-fangled avenues of theatre, music and performance, while the addition of comprehensive modules like Film-Making and Sound Design highlight how the arts have changed in the midst of a digital era.

“Artistic performance is an integral element of the UK’s creative and artistic landscape and a significant contributor to the UK’s economy and culture,” the course description notes. “Over the past decade, the development of new technology has enabled these particular art forms to reach another level in terms of performance impact. The…programme harnesses this interdisciplinary practice and follows the example of many national and international companies who are currently working in this field,” it adds.

Within this ground-breaking programme, students gain a unique insight into the diverse world of performing arts, using different types of media to combine creative forms with the most up-to-date technological platforms of 21st century life.


Derby’s BA (Hons) Photography degree also brings together worlds of old and new, and as one of the UK’s first universities to launch such a programme, the institution boasts more than half a century of heritage in photographic education. With an outstanding reputation for nurturing new talent and with 96 percent of graduates finding work or further study within six months of graduation, it’s clear that photography at Derby proudly draws from the lore of the camera, while urging students to get to grips with the cutting-edge technology that makes them employable in a complex modern world.

Image via Unsplash

“The BA (Hons) Photography course values and encourages imaginative and inventive approaches to photography and supports all types of work, including black and white, colour and digital,” the course description states.

“The course has been written and designed in order to provide you with a comprehensive understanding of the ideas, creative applications and potentials for photography today,” it adds. “…it provides an excellent foundation for your future career across a wide range of professions throughout the arts sector and beyond.”

Here, students gain thorough grounding in technical skill, as well as the historical, theoretical, cultural and political debates that helped shape photography as we know it. From historical camera practice, to digital, analogue, even to discourse and technologies; there’s clear evidence that the University consistently reviews course content to ensure it remains relevant to the times, yet still exhibits just how far the popular discipline has come. This unique provision helps Derby students discover and explore every estuary of photographic creativity.

Creativity: An ever-evolving concept…

Image courtesy of the University of Derby

There’s no doubt that technology has transformed every facet of the 21st century, and as such, the concept of creativity has been simultaneously revolutionised. Derby’s School of Art is the perfect example of a world-class institution that thrusts the worlds of art and culture into modern-day at full-throttle, producing artists and innovators who continue to refashion creative ideals, while never once forgetting how deep the arts have been ingrained into human nature.

Follow Derby’s School of Arts on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and Pinterest

Liked this? Then you’ll love these…

Derby Media and Performing Arts: The ones to watch…

The importance of performing arts in an interconnected world