Creativity Fills In The Blanks

We were participating in a scavenger hunt for a local 3rd grade class today. The kids were given clues associated with museums, galleries and public art around the downtown area. In addition to an architectural feature of our building, I was asked to reference the ghosts that linger in our 103 year old venue.

As you might imagine, the kids asked a lot of questions about the ghosts.

As they were leaving, they started reporting that the curtains moving by themselves and seeing a figure looming in the projection booth. I asked them what they thought was going on and they started relating all sorts of stories.  One kid forgot her water bottle so I turned the lights back on for her and was chatting with a teacher when she came scurrying nervously out clutching the water bottle.

It isn’t a surprise that people will fill in the blanks with information that isn’t available. Unfortunately, this fact has fueled a lot of conspiracy theories. On the other hand, there may be something to be said for the traditional practice of implying terrible things happened off-stage, both in a literal and metaphorical sense.

There are worries that younger people today won’t be ready for the jobs of tomorrow because they lack the trait of creative thinking.  The blame may be placed on the easy availability of content on the internet, video games, streaming, etc. But it is pretty clear that kids in 3rd grade haven’t lost the capacity to generate creative answers.

Perhaps part of the solution is to ask them to expound upon their ideas and showing that someone is paying attention rather than encouraging them to occupy themselves with phones and other devices.

About Joe Patti

I have been writing Butts in the Seats (BitS) on topics of arts and cultural administration since 2004 (yikes!). Given the ever evolving concerns facing the sector, I have yet to exhaust the available subject matter. In addition to BitS, I am a founding contributor to the ArtsHacker ( website where I focus on topics related to boards, law, governance, policy and practice.

I am also an evangelist for the effort to Build Public Will For Arts and Culture being helmed by Arts Midwest and the Metropolitan Group. (

My most recent role was as Executive Director of the Grand Opera House in Macon, GA.

Among the things I am most proud are having produced an opera in the Hawaiian language and a dance drama about Hawaii's snow goddess Poli'ahu while working as a Theater Manager in Hawaii. Though there are many more highlights than there is space here to list.


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