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March 29, 2016

The Next 20: Howard Jang

The Next 20: Howard Jang

This year is ArtStarts' 20th Anniversary. As we celebrate our accomplishments and impact, we are also inspired to think ahead about what the next 20 years hold for young people. What role can art and creativity play to support our next generation to thrive in the future?

To help us explore this question, we sat down with 20 community leaders across different sectors and asked them to share their story and thoughts on the relevance of art and creativity. For the next 20 weeks, we'll share these stories with you. We hope that they will inspire you to join our community of supporters so that together we can continue to build a bright future for BC's young people.

We start off the Next 20 series with community builder, Howard Jang, Professor of Professional Practice in the School for Contemporary Arts at SFU, and Director of SFU Woodward's Cultural Unit. Through his work, he provides support for artists to build careers around their passions and provides avenues for cultural production and discourse.


How do you define creativity?

For me, creativity is the opportunity to work with others to find solutions and problem solve and find a better way forward.

What does creativity look like in your life?

In my professional career, I have found joy in creating environments where the arts can thrive. For me this has meant a number of things like figuring out what policies need to be in place and understanding how to effectively engage a board of directors.

Creativity also shows up for me through the way I define how decisions get made. I try to create environments where decision-making is pure and unencumbered as this is where the magic happens. This is where you get to see possibilities and the opportunity to truly test and consider and process.

One of the most wonderful parts of my job today, which is different than what I have experienced in the past 30 years, is that I actually have time to process. I have more time available to me now than I have ever experienced before, to sit and think about the way things could work.

What inhibits the development of creativity?

Thinking about what you can’t do before thinking about what you can do.

What have been some key influences in your life?

Most of my influences have been people – from my school teachers, particularly my music teachers, as well as countless colleagues throughout my career. My experiences with people are what inform my practice today as I am now at a place in my professional career where mentoring, advising and guiding are key areas of engagement for me.

In your opinion, what is the purpose of school?

To encourage exploration… which is tied to curiosity. The role of education is to give you an opportunity to go deeper.

How do you think your job or sector will change in the future?

Community engagement is core now and will be core in the future. With the students I work with in my Creative Entrepreneurship class, I am so inspired as not only are they interested in pursuing a career as professional artists, they are also committed to finding ways to leverage their art to make the world a better place.

What do you think the world will be like in 20 years?

One of the biggest changes that will continue to affect us is that we live in a global world. Our radius is no longer just our neighbourhood like it was in the 1950s and 60s. Our sharing economy is going to continue to affect the way in which we engage with community.

What advice would you give to young people today to help them prepare for their future?

Follow your passion. Continue exploring. Be aware of what it is you are drawn to and then take the time to think about why that is. And then see where it can take you.



At ArtStarts in Schools, we want to ensure that young people across British Columbia have opportunities to develop their passions and creative potential and to build skills to thrive in the next 20 years—and beyond.

You can help us realize our vision by donating today and joining our community of supporters.

Learn more about ArtStarts in Schools and the work we do and discover additional ways you can show your support.

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