Have Your Heard the Buzz About Creative Conversations?
By now you may have heard the name Creative Conversation. Maybe you’ve seen Americans for the Arts Facebook Live Creative Conversations with Jackie Alexander, award winning actor, writer, producer, director and current Artistic Director of the North Carolina Black Repertory Company; or Quanice Floyd, Founder and Director of Arts Administrators of Color Network. But did you know these conversations are so much more?
Creative Conversations were launched in 2004 in response to feedback for a need for dialogue from the Emerging Leaders Network. Since then, they have been used as a catalyst in communities across the nation to unify groups of people engaged in arts and culture by sparking dialogue, spurring advocacy efforts, and creating networking opportunities for participants.
So, maybe you’re asking yourself, “Why am I hearing so much about Creative Conversations now?” Well, here is the answer! Americans for the Arts and the Emerging Leaders Council do a big Creative Conversation push during National Arts and Humanities Month (NAHM) every October. NAHM is a coast-to-coast collective recognition of the importance of arts and culture in America, which was launched by Americans for the Arts more than 30 years ago as National Arts Week in honor of the 20th anniversary of the National Endowment for the Arts. In 1993, it was reestablished by Americans for the Arts and national arts partners as a month-long celebration, with goals of:
- FOCUSING on the arts at local, state, and national levels;
- ENCOURAGING individuals and organizations to participate in the arts;
- ALLOWING governments and businesses to show their support of the arts; and
- RAISING public awareness about the role the arts and humanities play in our communities and lives.
Most Creative Conversations take place in October as part of NAHM; however, now they are popping up more frequently at other times of the year. The goals of a Creative Conversation are:
- Create a national, state, and local focus on the arts and humanities through the media
- Encourage active participation in arts and culture dialogue of individuals and organizations nationwide
- Provide an opportunity for acknowledgement and recognition of arts and culture by federal, state, and local business, government, and civic leaders
- Establish highly visible vehicle for raising public awareness about the arts and humanities
- Plus, your own goals
So, what’s the format of a Creative Conversation?
Formats of Creative Conversations vary and really depend on the goals of who is hosting the event. Past formats have included:
- Professional Development Workshops
- Community Dialogues
- Panel Discussions
- Twitter Chats
- Facebook Live Events
- Informal Conversations like happy hours and brown bag lunches
Looking for some inspiration? Check out these blogs from past hosts about Creative Conversations in their communities.
What topics do you talk about during a Creative Conversation?
Just like formats, topics for Creative Conversations vary widely. Some past topics have included “Arts Education: A Community of Inquiry in Pittsburgh,” “Town Hall Meeting on the State of Dance in Cincinnati,” “Make a Scene: Activating Local Arts & Culture Media,” and “Are the Arts for Everyone?”
This year's topic is: What is your power to create change in/through the arts?
Creative Conversations should center on the topic What is your power to create change in/through the arts? but your community can focus or customize the conversation in any way that feels relevant to your audience and your region’s unique challenges.
Do You Want to attend a Creative Conversation?
Creative Conversations take place all over the country during NAHM in October. Organizers of local conversations are encouraged to register them with Americans for the Arts on our ArtsMeet National Event Calendar. Check out the calendar to see if there is an event close to you.
Are you interested in hosting a Creative Conversation in your community?
Creative Conversations are a great way to connect your local community to a grassroots movement, elevating the profile of the arts in your community and across the country. Join us for a webinar Wednesday, Aug. 15 at 3 pm with Emerging Leaders Council Members Brea Heidelberg and Todd Trebour as we take a look at the Creative Conversation process. Learn best practices for hosting your own Creative Conversation, including topics to cover, who to partner with, formatting options, and more. We’ll also take a trip down memory lane as we look at case studies of previous successful Creative Conversations.
Americans for the Arts and the Emerging Leaders Council invite you to join the movement and host your own Creative Conversation!