Amateur Creativity: Symposium September 2015

Croydon is teaming with amateur creativity.

The long history of amateur creativity  and its vitality will be examined at

Amateur Creativity:  Inter-disciplinary Perspectives. Symposium

International Symposium 17-18 September 2015

University of Warwick

‘Amateur creativity is enjoying renewed vitality in the twenty-first century, reflecting deep cultural changes. Amateur performers, critics, authors and musicians can reach global audiences through blogs, youtube, ebooks and many other forms of social media, a cultural practice set to increase as digital technology becomes increasingly accessible. There is a revival of interest in folk art and craft, with some amateur bakers, knitters and gardeners becoming TV celebrities and others turning their skills to guerrilla performance, slow art or political activism. Organisations that have long supported amateur creativity, such as the Women’s Institute, The National Allotment Society, The Embroiders Guild and National Operatic and Dramatic Society are thriving, with many gaining new and younger members. Disaporic communities often maintain links with the cultural traditions and heritage of ‘home’ through craft and different forms of performance, many of which exist outside the boundaries associated with professional activity in the West. Amateur creativity in the twenty-first century is redefining what it means to be a professional, with profound cultural consequences.

In the academy there is a resurgence of interest in amateur creativity, regarded as a vital alternative to the commodified creative industries and to forms of cultural practice that reflect only the tastes of the metropolitan élite.  At the same time, the parameters of professional researcher are becoming porous, as amateur researchers are encouraged to gather data, shape research agendas and become co-producers of knowledge. The twenty-first century is set to loosen the idea of amateurism from its association with the ‘unprofessional’, and to reassert the significance of amateur creativity to communities, individuals and the wider ecologies of cultural participation. This inter-disciplinary symposium, part of the AHRC funded project, Amateur Dramatics: Crafting Communities in Time and Space, led by Helen Nicholson (Royal Holloway, University of London), Nadine Holdsworth (University of Warwick) and Jane Milling (University of Exeter) aims to challenge perceptions of amateur creativity and contribute to debates about the cultural significance of the amateur.

This symposium will bring together researchers from different disciplinary perspectives. We invite contributions from academics in many fields, including: cultural geography, sociology, medical humanities, science, cultural policy, philosophy, music, dance, visual arts, theatre and performance, history and anthropology. Papers may address any aspect of amateur creativity, such as:

  • Spaces and places of amateur creativity
  • Philosophies of the amateur and amateurism
  • Historical perspectives on amateur creativity
  • Amateur creativity in cultural policy
  • Amateur creativity and judgements of taste
  • Entertainment and amateur creativity
  • Amateurism and celebrity
  • Amateurs as political activists
  • Amateurism and affective labour
  • Citizen-artists, citizen scientists and co-production of knowledge
  • Amateur responses to heritage and tradition.

Proposals of between 250-300 words for 20-minute papers, 10-minute provocations, research posters or roundtable discussions are invited by 30th January 2015. Proposals and further inquiries can be addressed to Nadine Holdsworth at, and further details about the project are at:


About seancreighton1947

Since moving to Norbury in July 2011 I have been active on local economy, housing and environment issues with Croydon TUC and Croydon Assembly. I am a member of the Love Norbury Residents Associations Planning & Transport Committees, and Chair of Nobury Community Land Trust. I write for Croydon Citizen at I co-ordinate the Samuel Coleridge-Taylor and Croydon Radical History Networks and edit the North East Popular Politics database. History Project.. I give history talks and lead history walks. I retired in 2012 having worked in the community/voluntary sector and on heritage projects. My history interests include labour movement, mutuality, Black British, slavery & abolition, Edwardian roller skating and the social and political use of music and song. I have a particular interest in the histories of Battersea and Wandsworth, Croydon and Lambeth. I have a publishing imprint History & Social Action Publications.
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