What is a Creative Conversation?

A Creative Conversation gathers community leaders to discuss local arts, culture, and creativity to generate partnerships and increased energy around the grassroots movement to elevate the arts in America during National Arts & Humanities Month in October. Past participants learned about the state of their local arts and creative industry, explored new ideas to strengthen their community with the arts, and ignited connections that spurred movements and actions that work to ensure that every American has access to the transformative power of the arts. 

During the past few years, Creative Conversations have taken many forms, including:

  • Brown-bag lunches with colleagues within and outside the arts  to discuss local arts issues, cross-sector collaboration, and building a career in arts administration.
  • Professional development workshops on work-life balance, crisis management, audience development, fundraising, etc.
  • Panel sessions and moderated interviews with politicians, funders, representatives of other industries, and local arts leaders.
  • Full-day symposia with keynote speakers, professional development workshops, networking sessions, and more.

Past topics have included “Arts Education: A Community of Inquiry in Pittsburgh,” “Town Hall Meeting on the State of Dance in Cincinnati,” and “Make a Scene: Activating Local Arts & Culture Media.”

The Emerging Leaders Network has had a long history of being at the forefront of these conversations. The conversation can be a casual happy hour, a moderated panel, a facilitated small group discussion, a collaborative art project or any other format that will spark a real and productive exhange of ideas. This year's topic is: 

Are the Arts for Everyone?

In the United States in the 21st century, are the arts for everyone?

Conversations should center on the topic Are the Arts for Everyone?, but your community can focus or customize the conversation in any way that feels relevant to your audience and your region’s unique challenges. Sample discussion questions include:

  • How do you define “the arts?”
  • How can we create a pipeline into the arts that is accessible to everyone?
  • Who accesses the arts in your community and in what ways?
  • Does “art” or “arts” include everyone? Is the term too loaded or divisive to be useful?
  • Who gets public and private arts funding in your community? Who isn’t getting funding that should?
  • Why are the arts still viewed as elitist to so many people?
  • What systemic barriers stand in our way of achieving real diversity, equity and inclusion in the arts? What are the next steps to breaking down those barriers?
Why host a Creative Conversation?

To advance your local arts community by increasing connections, advancing dialogue, and developing your leadership. Creative Conversations are a local tool that empowers arts administrators to take a leadership role in their community by both designing programming and galvanizing peers to connect professionally.

Some of these local gatherings have grown into organized emerging leaders networks, been the catalyst for the development of community cultural plans, and have even helped shape local arts advocacy by connecting the cultural sector with the business community and political leadership.

How do I host a Creative Conversation?

The first step is to form a core planning team and then decide on the audience, topic, format, space, and date. Once that is squared away (whew!) post your event on our ArtsMeet National Event calendar and alert your networks and media.

Here are some tools and information to help you plan your Creative Conversation:

How do I attend a Creative Conversation near me?

You can find a local Creative Conversation by searching our ArtsMeet National Event calendar, where organizations and individuals add their arts events for the month of October and throughout the year.