Last week I had the great opportunity to attend the NEFA’s (New England Foundation for the Arts) Creative Community Exchange in North Adams. This event, hosted by Mass MoCA and Berkshire Creative, focused on how development of creative spaces and creative economies has benefited towns and regions throughout New England.
The event was made up of workshops presented by cultural and creative community leaders. The presenters focused on the successful implementation of developing the creative economy in their towns, cities or regions. With four different workshops in each session time slot, it was a difficult choice to decide which workshops to attend.
On Wednesday, May 18 the activities began with a tour of Mass MoCA lead by Joe Thompson, Director of Mass MoCA. This was an intimate look behind the scenes. It was wonderful to hear the story of space and exhibit development from such a knowledgeable person.
Thursday, May 19 was the start of the actual event. A marvelous breakfast was served to attendees. After a brief welcome we went to our chosen workshops. The first one I attended was the Rockingham Arts and Museum Project (RAMP). It was about the art challenges of a rural community and how developing the arts in Rockingham VT brought culture and economic growth to the area. The next session, Pittsfield Dept of Community Development: Downtown Renaissance was truly inspiring. How a city of 44,000 with minimal art and culture presence was able to develop a thriving and healthy creative economy was the focus of this workshop. After a delightful lunch, there were three more workshops. These covered developing creative partnerships and how small towns developed “Down Street” art centers.
Friday, May 20 started with another great breakfast followed by a “Spark” event designed to stimulate networking. The workshops followed. For the ending events an outstanding meal was provided with awards and speakers. Most notable among the speakers was National Endowment For the Arts Chairman, Rocco Landesman. He is a powerful speaker with a meaningful message. His slogan, “Art Works” has inspired me.
I made several connections at this event. I hope to be able to implement some of the ideas presented in our region and I do hope to be able to attend future events of this kind. If anyone is interested in a more in depth discussion of what I learned, please phone me or send me an email and we can delve more fully into this exciting subject.