ValleyCreates: The CoCreator

How do we create more vibrancy and more connection in the Valley’s arts and creativity community?  What can we and our organizations bring to the work of creating meaningful change through the arts?

If given the chance what, in our wildest dreams, would we do to create a deeper sense of connectedness throughout the Valley?

These three questions were at the heart of our day-long Arts Co-Creator convening, held on Saturday, January 12 at Gateway City Arts in Holyoke, MA. We envisioned this event as a springboard to gather folks passionate about arts and creativity from all corners of our region to explore answers with each other and to raise awareness about ValleyCreates, a newer initiative at CFWM focused on strengthening and connecting the diverse community of arts and creativity nonprofits in the Pioneer Valley.

Close to ninety artists and arts organizations –– from Shelburne Falls to Springfield –– put their creativity and collaborative skills to work!

The bulk of our day was spent delving into brainstorming groups that focused on key identified topics, which attendees themselves chose via a pre-event survey, and dreaming up collaborative ways to fulfill them. From a traveling art event to leveling the playing field for underfunded organizations, and creating intentional programming for inclusion and diversity, to tackling the issue of transportation in the Valley, the groups shared not only possibilities but also planted the seeds for real solutions – aka, “fundable ideas”.

This was no theoretical exercise! We hosted this event to generate these fundable ideas so that we can directly invest in and make them possible. Thanks to a partnership between CFWM and the Barr Foundation’s Creative Commonwealth* initiative, attendees will have access to planning grants to collaboratively develop some of their inspirational ideas and make their “wildest dreams” a reality.  Photography courtesy Erin Long.

*The Creative Commonwealth Initiative is a partnership between the Barr Foundation and five community foundations in Massachusetts. Rooted in the belief that investments in arts and creativity build thriving communities, Creative Commonwealth aims to promote the vital leadership role community foundations can play to advance the arts.