Niall’s thought for the day

The John Byrne Award is growing. At the same time, we want to improve our relevancy to Scottish society. So Niall, the CEO of The John Byrne Award is asking:

>>What is The Point of The John Byrne Award?

The aim of The John Byrne Award is ‘to better equip people to afford them the greatest opportunity to shape their community and environment to best meet their needs, desires and values’. We do this by publicly recognising creative pieces of work that prompt thought, discussion and debate about personal and societal values.



Why is this necessary? We are facing more ‘new challenges’ in 2018, as individuals, societies and a species, than it would seem we can comfortably handle. Technologies, the natural world and our humanity are combing in new, sometimes worrying, sometimes beautiful, and often unexpected ways. To meet the challenges head-on, to respond with positive, constructive solutions, we are increasingly requiring joined-up thinking and action that combines the skills and perspectives of many, many people.

The ‘spark’ for starting The John Byrne Award was the observation that people who know what they value make more consistent choices- choices that are aligned with their set of priorities; notably, not someone else’s. Improving our understanding of personal and societal values offers a framework in which we can more clearly prioritise personal and societal action. If we agree that ‘X’ is more important than ‘Y’, and understand that each other’s understanding of X is slightly different, then we are more likely to end up in a place that looks suitably like ‘X’ for both of us.

Our vision is a world in which ‘good’ creative work is partly defined by its ability to change society for the better; one where creativity, curiosity and informed judgement are championed as core values of the education system; one where an understanding of personal and society value-systems are regularly called upon and used alongside technical knowledge and personal judgement, in the decision making process; one where creativity-aligned-with-values earns its place at the centre of the forces shaping our rapidly changing world.



Lofty ideals some might shout! But I, for one, think that we need loftier ideals in general if we, as a society, are to make the most of the coming decades and centuries. Lofty ideals not informed by a utopia but by a realistic and constructive assessment of what it will take to build a better world out of our reality, now.

The John Byrne Award works to make two things a reality:

1.    The establishment of an inclusive and thoughtful movement to support and amplify a values system appropriate for our time.

2.    An education system that nurtures creativity, curiosity and judgement as tools to help create a society that reflects what we hold dear.

If you agree with Niall’s sentiment and what The John Byrne Award is working to achieve, share your creative work with us (we accept work in any creative medium from 16-30 year olds living in Scotland), have a look at the work exhibited in our online exhibition, and speak to your friends and enemies about what you value.