CCX 2017 Recap

Dee has shoulder length, curly, blond hair. She wears glasses and baby blue. She's a white woman.
Senior Program Director, Research & Creative Economy

At a meeting this morning, I ran into a local colleague who said, “I just wanted to tell you how much I enjoyed the CCX in New London. I’m still thinking about it.” That was the inspiration I needed to finish reading the evaluations and share the learnings, and perfectly timed for us to share these video highlights:

The CCX has become a flagship event for NEFA, and is shaped almost entirely by the participants. It has a specific format, and while the content is focused on arts-based community development and creative placemaking, it has evolved over time in response to your feedback. So, here it is: your assessment of CCX 2017 based on your survey responses (and the lovely comments people have shared by email). Thank you for your continued interest and enthusiasm around gathering as the New England Creative Economy Network. Thank you for sharing your expertise with each other and with NEFA so generously. Our region’s communities wouldn’t be the robust, creative, and appealing places they are without you.


Out of the 273 people who registered for the event, 102 of you responded to the online survey. (Yes, we want to hear from no-shows too.)

Registrants: Primary Work Sector

Survey Respondents: Role(s) in the creative economy (multi-select)

What creative economy topics are of particular interest to you and/or your community? (In descending order)

  • Creative Placemaking
  • Community engagement
  • Funding
  • Space (including housing)
  • Collaboration (within the sector)
  • Organizational health
  • Cross-sector partnerships
  • Public Art
  • Marketing/sector visibility
  • Artist Professional Development
  • Equity
  • Planning

Ninety-seven percent of you said that the CCX met or exceeded your expectations , which is exciting since 73% were new to the CCX experience!

What specifically met your expectations (or didn’t)?

Your favorite elements of the event were the event setting and the event venues. Go New London! (NEFA staff agree – the local venues, vendors and local host were all extra enthusiastic and helpful.) It’s amazing how many comments we hear about CCX venues. Though it might be a logistical challenge, people love hopping around the various venues of a community that exemplify the creative economy and arts-based community development in action. Does this mean that we need to make extra sure that the spaces are welcoming and accessible to all? Yes. Is it worth it? Of course! The CCX must take place in venues that demonstrate the creative community in which they are situated, so it is unlikely to ever be at a convention center or hotel. You can quote me on that.

You also loved the length of the event, the schedule and timing, the variety and format of the workshops, and the interactive keynote. You were split (like/love) on the overall networking time and you liked (but didn’t love) the research session, the networking lunch, and the workshop handouts. You found registration easy, but wanted more info pre-event about the workshops and local event options. That's a lot of love! Maybe that's why you stuck around for the whole event:

Let’s get into the meat of the event – the workshops and the networking, both equally important to you when deciding whether to attend the CCX.


86% of you found the workshops “useful” or “very useful,” with 13% noting they were only “somewhat useful.”

Which Sessions Were Most Useful? 

Why? What made them useful? Your most popular descriptions:

  • Workshop content
    • Applicable/directly relevant/Included the most practical, actionable content
    • Informative - lots of take-aways
    • Perfect level of detail
    • Highlighted some challenges
    • excellent questions & dialogue
    • Stellar examples
  • Projects
    • Clarity of impact and process
    • Well-done projects
    • Ingenuity
    • Very specific ideas, project design, inclusion practices, and lessons learned 
  • Presenters
    • Engaging/interesting/dynamic
    • Creative, innovative, and resourceful
    • Higher level of self-awareness and observation
    • Passionate/excited about their work
    • Very well prepared

Don’t forget, you can download any of the To Do handouts from the workshops from their Community Initiative section on

Workshop Leaders

What about the workshop leaders themselves: Those brave souls who took time out of their busy schedules to put themselves out there and get the discussion going and lead among their peers.

They ranked the elements of being a workshop leader from most favorite to least (but everything was at least OK):

  1. workshop feedback
  2. session facilitation
  3. session tech
  4. review process
  5. to do lists
  6. application process


Ninety-eight percent of you were satisfied with the event networking. You gave special shout outs to meeting people from Waterfire, Expansion Arts Project, the African Burying Ground Memorial, Boston, Portland, Northwest CT, and New Haven. You were happy to meet so many people developing space (a big theme at CCX this year) and implementing economic development projects. You became acquainted with new people and checked in with folks from your own state you don’t see often enough. Many of you mentioned planning trips to communities you learned about at CCX. Keep us posted on those and please share if anything develops!

  • We met several individuals who we will invite to our community to showcase their work.
  • Not only did I learn more, but there was a peer to peer cultural connection I experienced that had not been available to me in other events.  
  • It was great to attend a workshop with someone from another state that we partner with to provide programming, but communicate almost totally via email. Seeing them in person, and in the context of attending a workshop that was connected to the programming we do together, helped us have some higher level conversations about how we will change and adapt the programming next year.
  • I met with two presenters who are going to help me do similar projects to theirs in my area of CT.
  • Folks were very free with their advice when I explained my group's situation back home. I hope I was also able to offer the people I met some ideas they might not have had....

Overall there was appreciation for the mix of enterprising artists, arts administrators and others that are engaged in creative economy initiatives.

Who should we all be sure to invite to the CCX 2019? (your top suggestions)

  • Municipal planners
  • Younger, emerging artists/administrators
  • Economic development folks
  • For-profit businesses
  • Elected officials
  • Funders
  • Arts service organizations
  • Humanities organizations: libraries, museums, historic sites


Why is networking so important?

  • I literally did not sleep on Thursday night for more than 3 hours, I was SO energized and enthusiastic about all of the material presented and all of the people that I spoke with. I have returned to my organization with BIG plans and more insight into how we can move forward.
  • It helps us keep up with best practices, share brilliant ideas, see what's working and not working, and learn from each other. A conference like this also helps us take a step back and look at the bigger picture and longer term goals on a program by program basis, which is really helpful.
  • Like many in this field, working alone means that peers are important. We have to make our team and sometimes they're from all over the place. So they really become my tribe, my advisors, my sounding board, my inspiration.
Problem Solving Visibility & Broadening Perspective
  • practical benefits (leads on funding, important contacts, etc) 
  • share best practices and scale projects on a regional level
  • I have too little experience of my own 
  • encouraged me to look at challenges in a
  • different way and come up with some valuable solutions 
  • see how others are being creative!
  • clarify messaging
  • broaden our knowledge beyond our city 
  • learn what is happening on the ground 
  • meet people from other areas
  • break down the boxes we put ourselves in
  • helps other people know about our organization 
  • getting a sense of trends/research in the field
Personal Support Future Planning
  • partnership development, deepening relationships 
  • revitalizing/enlivens and reinvigorates
  • the catharsis of commiserating 
  • give reassurance 
  • reminder that we're not alone 
  • things to try
  • new ideas 
  • new ways to think about things
  • future job searching
  • critical to testing ideas and learning needs

Scholarship Recipients

Of course we couldn’t produce the CCX without the support of sponsors. And one very important outcome of those sponsorships is that it gives NEFA the ability to pass along that financial support to make the event accessible and affordable for the participants.  This year many of NEFA’s state arts agency partners also offered support to get their constituents to the CCX, especially the CT Office of the Arts, who paid for 63 people to attend. We are proud that the CCX is considered a valuable investment in professional development that we hope brings more efficiency and cohesion to the sector across the region. Sixty percent of you who responded to the survey said that you would not have attended the CCX without registration or travel support, so we join you in thanking everyone who made that possible.

Outcomes from prior events

An inevitable challenge for a biennial event is the sustaining of momentum and tracking that longer lasting impact. Here are a few examples you shared of how participation in a prior CCX has helped you post-event. Clearly a tip from your peers would be to not be afraid to reach out to each other when you’re back home and need a hand!

  • I presented at Keene with a community festival organizer and she is now exploring starting a new-American kitchen that will sell food modeled after another presenter's project. She has met with that presenter in person to discuss logistics. 
  • Formed a local arts and culture organization focused on fostering communications among same.
  • Contacted presenters to help review community impact grant program for state agency; learned from and inspired by project conversations
  • At each one I've contacted people, or visited venues. I wouldn't have gone to Pequot if the speaker the first morning hadn't mentioned it. 


Stay tuned for the date, location, and topic of the NECEN fall meeting (feel free to send me suggestions!).

Join us for the upcoming webinar about The Jobs in New England Creative Economy and Why They Matter report if you need a refresher or want another opportunity to ask questions. And please share the report video and highlight sheets widely! Info here:

And it’s not too soon to start thinking about CCX 2019 in VT! The application for the local host and location will open spring/summer 2018, and the call for workshops will open in October 2018.

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