Building the Presence of New England’s Creative Economy

Mary Kelley
Board Chair

I arrived at the Creative Communities Exchange 2013 on Thursday morning at MECA to  a busy reception table – people arriving from all over New England. The hum of voices thro

ughout the lobby greeted us.  Some old friends and many new faces.  Great turnout – some 250 people! 

I am always struck by the city of Portland – it exemplifies what I think of as a “creative city.”  Art everywhere but artists are really present and visible too.  So many independent stores and galleries beckon.  No end of places to see and food to eat.  A great walking town with a working harbor.

After a welcome by NEFA’s Rebecca and Creative Portland’s Jennifer Hutchins, we  are all off and running to a networking lunch .  Each lunch table had a policy question.  No one at our table knew how to answer the question since they did not live in a place where artistic activity was considered in zoning decisions but, hey, that did not hold the conversation back.  People introduced themselves and just started talking and later table-hopping.  Suddenly it was time for the first session – so many interesting sessions that it was hard to pick just one.


Over in the Portland Public Library, I met Molly, a young woman who had just moved back to Portland from Colorado.  She is a professional in map-making and looking to make contacts at CCX.  I told her to look up Dee Scheidman who is NEFA’s data guru.  Then I attended a terrific session led by Craig Dreeszen and Stephanie Fortunato about Cultural Planning for Urban Transit Corridors in Providence, RI.  Also of note was a good session by Justine Roberts about building the presence of the NH Children’s Museum in Dover and the region.  So many high-quality and engaging workshops in one place…

Several NEFA board members  joined me for the conference and I know we all benefited as much as those at the workshops.  Lots of good conversation, new models of doing business and such a variety of cultural activity throughout the region. 

Here’s to staying connected – through the contacts we all made at CCX, through future NEFA creative economy events, and through, New England’s Online Creative Economy Directory, launching in July!

Photos by Arthur Fink.