Reimagining Play: Elevating creativity to new heights

British Council’s new program ELEVATE will bring creative thinkers together to find innovative solutions to practical challenges.
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Rapidly increasing technological connectedness has increased awareness of global issues. Now, the British Council is using its position at the forefront of international creative networks and research to establish ELEVATE, a program which will bring creative thinkers together to find innovative solutions to practical challenges.

ELEVATE will be an ongoing program aimed at using culture and creativity to developing programs focussed on Creative Cities, Conflict & Safety, Education & Play, Environment, and Health & Welfare. British Council Project Manager Lisa Burns said, “the program extracts creatives from various sectors and asks them to come up with innovative solutions to real societal challenges.”

Applications for the inaugural ELEVATE project will open on 10 November 2014. Burns explained that the Council has “partnered with the Lien Foundation based in Singapore to deliver a challenge called the ELEVATE Startwell™ Challenge: Reimagining Play. It asks for creatives to come up with innovative new solutions [for] play spaces that are relevant to the 21st century. That has grown out of a need to look at what’s happening particularly across the East Asian region in terms of urban population growth. It’s predicted that by 2050 three-quarters of the world’s population will live in built-up urban areas. What does that mean for the 2.2 billion children in the world that need a safe, supportive and imaginative place to play? If we’re growing kids with imaginations we’ll be much better equipped to solve problems in the future.”

With the aid of teleconferencing technology, prospective applicants can hear from experts around the world at Connect sessions. The objective of the sessions is encourage brainstorming and open up discussion around Reimagining Play. The BT Showcase Suites will be situated in London, Sydney, Tokyo, Jakarta, Hong Kong and Singapore. Burns elaborated, “speakers will be discussing what it means to reimagine play in each of those contexts, what the challenge hopes to achieve, and what the Council expects from ELEVATE participants.”

Panellists will select finalists from across Australia, New Zealand, East Asia and the UK to participate in a development camp taking place in Japan in February at the Yamaguchi Centre for Arts and Media. “At the camp they will flesh out those ideas, collaborate and explore them further,” Burns explained, “working with a range of local and international partner organisations including Google.” These workshopped ideas will then be resubmitted to compete for a share of SGD$50,000 in funding, in order to realise the proposal or undertake further professional development.

Reimagining Play takes the power of creativity and brings it full-circle, using contemporary creative thinkers to plant the seeds for the creative thinkers of the next generation. “The long-term outcome for this program is to create a global innovation movement, of people who are using creativity to affect larger-scale social change,” said Burns. “We hope that those people will connect together to fill skills gaps, and feel like they have the capacity to apply their creative skills using a social change-making currency.” That sort of currency is invaluable.

Applications for ELEVATE Startwell™ Challenge open Monday 10 November 2014 and close Monday 5 January 2015. To find out more about ELEVATE, visit
Chloe Wolifson
About the Author
Chloe Wolifson is a Sydney-based independent art writer and curator who works across artist-run, commercial and public domains.