Meetings & Events

NEFA gathers creative community catalysts to share resources, ideas, practical information, and actionable tools that can be executed in their own communities.

Creative Communities Exchange

This fast-paced event gathers creative and cultural community leaders for networking and practical creative economy workshops prepared by their peers. The Exchange highlights a wide range of successful initiatives from around New England that focus on various elements of the creative economy (e.g. downtown revitalization, artist and small business professional development, impact data collection, planning, zoning, space development, and marketing).

Participants are creative and cultural community leaders who work on creative economy projects in various sectors and types of organizations including cultural nonprofits, creative businesses, economic development, city planning, funders, researchers, and government. They share successes, challenges, and lessons learned to gain actionable tools they can use to strengthen their own communities.

Several months before the event, presenters submit initiative descriptions through NEFA's Community Initiatives form, finalists are selected, and the presentations are reviewed. At the event, workshop presentations focus on a single initiative, are strictly timed and include a how-to demonstration, Q&A, and networking time. Presenters provide participants with an instructional handout outlining their initiative process.

Two creative economy initiatives are recognized at each CCX with NEFA's creative economy award.

This biennial event rotates to different New England communities and is co-hosted by NEFA and local representatives.

Past Exchanges

  • June 6-7, 2013: Creative Communities Exchange
    Co-hosted by Creative Portland at the Maine College of Art (Portland, ME)
    Over 240 leaders from New England and beyond discussed strategies to leverage the creative sector for community revitalization and growth.
    Event details
    Presenters & session descriptions
    Event summary (NEFA blog post by Dee Schneidman)
    Photos from the event
  • May 18-19, 2011: Creative Communities Exchange
    Co-hosted by Berkshire Creative
    This event gathered 250 creative and cultural community leaders at MASS MoCA in North Adams, MA, for networking and practical creative economy workshops. Developed jointly by NEFA, Berkshire Creative, and a steering committee from arts organizations across the region, the Exchange highlighted projects focusing on various elements of the creative economy.
    Presenters & session descriptions
    Photos from the event
  • March 9-11, 2010: Connecting Creative Communities
    Co-hosted by City of Providence Department of Art, Culture + Tourism
    This event gathered 170 of New England’s community leaders from nonprofit, government, consulting, creative business, artistic, and education fields at the Biltmore Hotel in Providence, RI, to discuss tools for creative community building: policy, research, programming, and resource development.
    Session descriptions


Creative Economy Network

NEFA periodically convenes an informal network of creative community leaders to discuss New England creative economy priorities and strategies.

What is the New England Creative Economy Network (NECEN)?
An organic framework that connects creative community leaders from around the region to discuss New England creative economy models, priorities, and strategies. The goals of the network are to:

  • Formalize and increase connections among practitioners
  • Spotlight creative economy projects
  • Share resources across communities
  • Brainstorm on New England priorities and strategies

Who should attend NECEN meetings?
Leaders from multiple sectors (arts, urban planning, local government, philanthropy, business development, education, media, tourism) who are invested in the creative sector's relationship with/impact on community development and vitality.

Read the blog post about NEFA's last Creative Economy Network meeting, held on June 4, 2014, in Providence, RI, and contact NEFA if you would like to participate in upcoming meetings.

To stay informed and participate, join the New England Creative Economy Network group on LinkedIn.