Notes From Outside the Box
April 2017  
Upcoming Conferences for the Creative Community
Feeling stuck this mud season? Need a bit of inspiration? It's time to connect with other creative thinkers. Make time this June for one - or both - of these New England conferences.

The Vermont Downtown and Historic Preservation Conference, is Thursday, June 8 in White River Junction. This event is presented by the Department of Housing and Community Development; partners include Northern Stage, the Preservation Trust of Vermont, and the Town of Hartford.
Vermont Downtown and Historic Preservation Conference White River Junction - Thursday_ June 8th
This year's conference highlights elements of White River Junction's downtown revival: new housing, businesses, and jobs. One of the day's many sessions will be hosted by nationally recognized speaker Joe Minicozzi. Joe maintains that investing in downtowns improves the economy while saving taxpayer dollars. There will also be tours, networking time, and a concluding reception.
The Creative Communities Exchange (CCX), put together by the New England Foundation for the Arts, is June 8-9 in New London, Connecticut. The local host is the Southeastern Connecticut Cultural Coalition.
CCX helps to bridge the creative sector and community development. The day's activities highlight a wide range of initiatives from around New England that leverage creative assets. This fast-paced peer-to-peer event brings together New England leaders invested or engaged in the creative economy.

Welcome Ben Doyle and Scott Murphy!
Ben Doyle 

The Creative Network welcomes two new statewide voices to the Steering Team. Ben Doyle is the community and economic development director for rural development at the Vermont office of the United States Department of Agriculture. In that role, Ben serves as an outreach manager, connecting Vermont communities with potential USDA resources.

Scott Murphy is the acting state librarian at the Vermont Department of Libraries. He steps onto the Steering Team following the departure of former state librarian, Martha Reid. Prior to his work at the state level, Scott served as director of the Milton Public Library. He has also worked in library services in other states and was previously director of state library services for the Vermont Department of Libraries. 

Scott Murphy
Other Network News 

The Vermont Creative Network Steering Team gathered in Montpelier in late March. Alex Aldrich addressed the Team, announcing his departure from the Vermont Arts Council on April 14 and reporting that the Arts Council board has secured the services of Teri Bordenave as interim director. In light of this, the steering team wrote a letter to the Arts Council board to ask for its continued commitment and support of the Network.

Creative zone agents offered progress reports. Highlights included: hosting multiple Creatives' Town Meetings throughout a zone, creating regional asset maps and inventories of creative and resources, developing a database for regional creatives, collaboratively moving creativity to the center of community discussions, and developing advantageous relationships beyond Vermont's borders.

The Team explored the standing of two current projects:
  • Vermont Town Plans and..., a research project to determine the inclusion of creativity in all of Vermont's town plans. Managed by consultant, Claire Wheeler, the work is expected to be completed by early May.
  • Strategic Report. A task force formed by the Steering Team is preparing a report, to be published in June. The document will speak about the Network through three lenses: past, present, and future. The process calls for public input in May.
Choice Investment

Investors want choices. More and more, they want responsible choices, such as buying into companies practicing environmental stewardship or expanding clean energy. An emerging subset of responsible choices is called social impact investing. And, luckily for creatives, that subset is beginning to include the arts.

The process can be complicated. Often arts organizations need much smaller investments than large professional investors generally give. Upstart Co-Lab is a nonprofit which aims to connect investors with creatives working for social improvement. A caveat is that artists who receive benefits must have more than just art in mind - it's all about the impact. Whether it be opening a "cafe with poetry or a print shop where people can go and make their 3-D printing prototypes," suggested Laura Callanan, the founding partner of Upstart Co-Lab, they must have entrepreneurial spirit and the desire to make a difference. In return, they get "the security to practice their craft," most often through affordable housing.

Read a recent article from the New York Times for an example of how it can be done.
The Vermont Creative Network Action Roadmap 
Community | Education | Funding 
Leadership | Technical Resources | Visibility
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