Creative Conversations Take on National Arts & Humanities Month

Posted by Cristyn Johnson, Oct 08, 2019

Creative Conversations are on fire! This year’s Creative Conversation theme, How is the past shaping the future of the arts?, is sparking dialogue across the country.

So, you may be asking yourself, “What exactly is a Creative Conversation anyway?” Well, I’ve got an answer for you! Creative Conversations gather together arts and community leaders to discuss local arts, culture, and creativity. These conversations help to foster cross-sector and inter-sector partnerships and promote increased energy around the grassroots movement to elevate the arts during National Arts & Humanities Month (NAHM) in October.

Creative Conversations, spearheaded by the Emerging Leaders Network, can take on many forms. They can be informal brown-bag lunches with colleagues, professional development workshops, panel sessions with politicians, and even full-day symposia. Participants have learned about the state of their local arts and culture industry, explored new ideas to strengthen their community with the arts, and ignited connections that spurred movement and actions that work to ensure everyone has access to the transformative power of the arts.

This year’s theme (How is the Past Shaping the Future of the Arts?) can be approached from many angles, and can be used to reflect on your organization or the community you are a part of. Americans for the Arts’ Emerging Leaders Council has curated some questions to help guide your discussions; check out our Creative Conversations page to dive deeper.

One of my favorite parts of October and NAHM is hearing about all of the amazing Creative Conversations going on across the country, and I’m here to bring you a round-up of a few of coolest ones.

Kicking off NAHM on October 1, Velocity Dance Center in Seattle, Washington hosted a Creative Conversation centered around their “Save Our Studio” campaign. Like many organizations, Velocity is facing the possibility of closing their doors if action isn’t taken soon. At this meeting, they reviewed their current situation, took questions from the community, talked about plans for the future, and discussed how people can get involved.

ArtsNow in Akron, Ohio hosted a Creative Conversation, “The Art of Recovery,” exploring the intersection of arts, culture, and environment in mental health and addiction. In addition to a facilitated discussion, attendees were given the opportunity to view a scene from “(In)Dependent: The Heroin Project” that served as a discussion point.

On October 10, the Rhode Island State Council on the Arts (RISCA) is hosting the Creative Conversation “Connecting and Leveraging Networks” featuring Ruby Lopez Harper, Director of Local Arts Services with Americans for the Arts, and the Rhode Island Expansion Arts Program. Speaking of which, RISCA has an entire suite of programming celebrating NAHM—check out what they have going on here.

Also speaking of Rhode Island, Rhode Island Latino Arts is hosting a Plática (Creative Conversation). This invite only event, “Café Recuerdos,” is hosted by Sussy Santana and Kufa Castro and will include a group of Latino/Latina artists in conversation about Latinidad (all things Latino) and how that inspires them as artists.

A big shout-out is in store for Emerging Arts Leaders Los Angeles! They are hosting three Creative Conversations in October about the Art of Survival: On October 9, “Art of Survival: Creatives & the Alternative Economies”; October 16, “Art of Survival: Art & Self-Care”; and October 23, “Art of Survival: Artists in Residence Programs.”

Emerging Arts Leaders Philadelphia is hosting the Creative Conversation “What’s Next in the Arts” on October 26. Their seventh annual Creative Conversation will feature keynote speaker Stanford Thompson, a musician and educator who serves as the Founder and Executive Director of Play On Philly, which brings music education to students in underserved areas throughout Philadelphia.

But wait, there’s more!

This year, Americans for the Arts is taking Creative Conversations to a new level by bringing you three National Creative Conversations that you can participate in from the comfort of your couch (or maybe your desk at work). Featuring three of our Annual Leadership Awardees in conversation with arts leaders from across the country, these are a must see. The series will feature:

We’re bringing you all three of these conversations free of charge, so spread the word! If you’re interested but aren’t able to tune in live, register anyway—all of these Creative Conversations will be recorded and available for you to watch any time once you’ve registered.

I hope some of these highlights inspire you to continue the dialogue in your own community. We’re glad to have you as an arts champion!