Creativity in Enterprise Culture

"As peculiar as the cultural economy of fine art may be, there is no getting around the fact that an increasing number of individuals are choosing to become artists. This is all the more striking given the past 30 years in which a form of deregulated capitalism has dominated the global economy transforming increasing segments of the population into an under- or simply un-employed surplus population that exceeds even the necessary “reserve army of labor” essential to the functioning of capital. So why has art, an inherently precarious activity in the best of times, actually flourished during this process of competitive global austerity? Needless to say, the answer appears to lie not strictly within the art establishment, but is instead part of a broader change in the status of culture within the neoliberal economy of the past 30 years. For one thing, enterprise culture requires a kind of enforced creativity that is imposed on all forms of labor. Workers, whose livelihoods have been made increasingly precarious by the collapse of the traditional social welfare state, are expected to be forever ready to retrain themselves at their own expense (or their own debt), to labor continuously even when at home or on vacation, and finally, they are expected to be constantly creative, to think like an artist: “outside the box.” Such universal demand for imagination and innovation inevitably places added value on forms of “creativity” previously dismissed as informal or non-professional."

–Dark Matter: Art and Politics in the Age of Enterprise Culture. Gregory Sholette. 2011.