Getting inspired at the Creative Communitives Exchange conference

The Creative Communities Exchange conference, held in Portland, ME on June 6-7 2013, introduced me to a great variety of inspirational, creative things. I heard talks on:

  • B.E.A.N., a microgrant program by the Brattleboro Museum & Art Center, funded through community dinners where the diner-donors voted on projects.
  • CreativeNEXT Listening Tour, a survey of 580 Massachusetts creative businesses that investigated their current status and future needs, an initiative of the Massachusetts economic development office.
  • Haley House Bakery Cafe, a nonprofit bakery, itself an offshoot of a soup kitchen and affordable housing organization. It has evolved into a vibrant, active community center involving local artists in many disciplines, as well as providing training and employment for ex-felons.
  • Discover Roxbury, which produces a great variety of events featuring local art and culture. It gets the word out via the classy Art Rox! Season Guide.
  • Sharon Arts Center, which recently merged with local college New Hampshire Institute of Art  (I didn’t find the saga of their merger on their web site)
  • Cambridge Center for Adult Ed and its Community Supported Art program, modeled on community-supported agriculture. It gives patrons a chance to sample art collecting on a small scale, and gives artists training in marketing and the chance to experiment with small-scale affordable pieces.
  • A visionary plan to convert the historic Silvermine Tavern in Norwalk, CT into an artist colony.  I didn’t find a web page devoted the project. They are trying to develop a donor base to get the plans off the ground.

The conference was sponsored by New England Foundation for the Arts and  Creative Portland. It was hosted at Maine College of Art in the downtown arts district of Portland.

For every presentation I heard, there were three more going on at the same time, a wealth of community initiatives. There’s more on the NEFA web site.

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