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Creative Exchange: Top 2 Reasons for Showing Up

By Barbara Schaffer Bacon, Animating Democracy, Americans for the Arts

I’ll be in Lansing for the Creative Exchange on May 15, 2018, and I hope to meet you! Here are two reasons I believe you should be there!

Reason #1: Lansing should be on Barbara’s creative-cities list

I like to visit creative cities and towns. These are places where I feel like I’ve been somewhere after I’ve been there. In my experience, these are places where creative people are actively involved in making things happen. Places where there are little distinctive things, in addition to the better-known attractions. Places where I can meet locals, find artists, learn the history, buy something authentic. Places where the role of arts and culture is talked about whether the subject is economic development, community development, health and safety, housing, transportation, sustainability or education. Toledo, Ohio is such a place, so are Worcester, Mass. and Chester, Pa. 

These cities are not without challenges in public health and safety, social inclusion, educational attainment. They have neighborhoods with critical needs where revitalization feels elusive and the cycle of poverty pervasive. But they are places where people are connected and things get done in ways that could only happen there. They are places where creatives, whether individual artists or arts educators, choreographers or crafts people, designers, writers or symphony directors are bringing their imaginations, ideas, talents and institutional assets to the table with a generative forward-leaning spirit.

Toledo, Worcester, and Chester are not oft-mentioned tourist destinations, but each is a distinctive and truly creative city that is putting its cultural and creative assets to work.

Let's add Lansing, Mich. to my creative-cities list.

Reason #2 Showing up could make all the difference

Your excuses for not attending the Creative Exchange might be many –

“That looks like a good opportunity, but I should probably keep my nose down and get to some things on my list.” 

“I’d love to connect, but this is a busy week.”

“I need to focus on finding some collaborators for a project I have in mind.”

But you should come! 

I showed up at an arts conference recently--after days of debating if I should go. By the time the program ended, I had:

·  met three arts-connected people who live or work in my community and who are putting some muscle into organizing some fresh cultural event there.

·  learned about several projects that will really inform my own work. 

·  heard presentations from two artists whose work I will start following and whom I will readily recommend to folks looking for artists to work with (I get asked that a lot).

·  received two requests to do some consulting.

·  talked briefly with a potential funder.

·  shared some of my work and got some great feedback.

And, I heard four terrific ethnic music groups that could bring down the house. Not a bad take for a brief six-hour investment!

Come share and gather

I’m coming to Lansing to share and gather stories--tips and tools for artists, creative workers and organizations who are supporting each other and putting their assets to work for Lansing. 

So be there to share your stories with me and with your creative peers. 

I'll see you on the May 15!