Reflecting on CCX: Creative Portland and the Creative Economy Award

Jennifer Hutchins
Executive Director

Originally from Idaho and Montana, Greta Rybus is world-traveling photographer who now calls Portland (ME) home. She is an artist-entrepreneur with a burgeoning portraiture business who exemplifies our city’s creative community. Her recent work has focused on editorial portraiture, food, and travel photography and has appeared in many well-known media outlets.

As we know, it’s creative people like Greta who make Portland such an appealing place to live and work. So, my organization has been developing programs and initiatives since 2008 that will support the creative community and attract people here who value Portland’s uniqueness and will invest in it as customers, patrons, donors, or fans.

And, it’s thanks to the Creative Communities Exchange that we have been able to support artists like Greta through Assets for Artists—a program of Mass MoCA that I first learned about from Blair Benjamin. In 2011, I attended my second Creative Communities Exchange at Mass MoCA and heard about an innovative new program called Assets for Artists. Shortly after that event, Blair and I got in touch and figured out a way to bring A4A to Maine for the first time. 

And, now Greta has invested her A4A funds in a new computer and a retirement fund to improve the quality of current and future creative assets. Here’s what Greta had to say about A4A: “Like a lot of artists, my education was missing some key components. I didn't know how to organize my finances, how to grow my business, or how I would ever create a retirement plan. I had been told that artists don't make money and therefore was given little information about how to manage my money. But, my business was growing and I needed to grow with it. Programs like Assets4Artists help Maine artists thrive and contribute to our communities.”

Every time I attend CCX, which I’ve done every other year since the beginning, I learn something new—a program or idea that helps Creative Portland do better work. NEFA goes out of their way to make it affordable and accessible to every community in New England. It’s the only chance we have to network with/learn from our regional colleagues and it's hugely impactful.

Images: Greta Rybus