Celebrating our CreativeGround State Arts Agency Partners

Woman in glasses and a yellow cardigan smiles.
Former CreativeGround Website Administrator

CreativeGround is a New England creative economy directory, which would naturally not exist without NEFA’s partnership with the six New England State Arts Agencies (SAA). These agencies were involved in the earliest conversations about CreativeGround and still contribute feedback and ideas to constantly improve the directory for their communities. They connect the artists, cultural nonprofits, and creative businesses in their state to the arts – and to CreativeGround - in many important ways.

To start, each of the six New England states has a SAA - in fact all 50 states and the six U.S. jurisdictions have one. They all share one common goal: increase public access to the arts and work to ensure that every community in America enjoys the cultural, civic, economic and educational benefits of a thriving arts sector. To do this, SAAs provide grant funding for arts institutions, schools, and community groups; offer professional development opportunities for artists and arts organizations; lead special initiatives to foster economic and civic development through the arts; preserve and celebrate the unique cultural traditions of each state; recognize and promote artistic achievement; among other strategic initiatives specific to their individual state. The SAAs do all of this at the state level, and in collaboration with NEFA, one of the six U.S. regional arts organizations (RAOs) established in partnership with the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) and state arts agencies to cultivate the arts regionally and strengthen the national arts infrastructure. (For more information on State Arts Agencies, visit the National Assembly of State Arts Agencies website.)

The SAAs in New England are the Connecticut Office of the Arts, the Maine Arts Commission, the Massachusetts Cultural Council, the New Hampshire State Council on the Arts, the Rhode Island State Council on the Arts, and the Vermont Arts Council. The NEFA board of directors has a spot for each of the New England SAA directors, SAA staff members participate in some of NEFA’s grant review processes, and of course advise on NEFA projects that serve the SAAs and their constituents, such as CreativeGround.

Each of the New England SAAs use CreativeGround in any number of ways:

  • as their state's cultural directory;
  • as a way to promote the artists on their artist rosters;
  • as a tool to quantify their state's creative sector;
  • and as a way to search for and connect with artists, organizations, and businesses in their region.

Right now, CreativeGround serves as the cultural directory for the Vermont Arts Council, New Hampshire State Council on the Arts, Rhode Island State Council on the Arts, Massachusetts Cultural Council, and the Connecticut Office of the Arts. This means that CreativeGround is where they direct their constituents who are trying to locate artists or institutions for any number of reasons. The New Hampshire State Council on the Arts for instance has CreativeGround’s website embedded directly on their website so users can browse the directory without leaving their site. Vermont maintained its own cultural directory up until the launch of CreativeGround when they started a comprehensive campaign to make sure all artists on the directory had the information and tools they needed to create or update a profile on CreativeGround. By using CreativeGround as their cultural directory rather than maintaining their own, SAAs’ resources and time can be directed to other important initiatives.

Users can search for artists on CreativeGround who are on any one of eight SAA rosters in Connecticut, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont. If you’re looking, for instance, for a vetted artist who works in healthcare in New Hampshire, you can find artists in CreativeGround who have indicated that they are on the New Hampshire Arts in Healthcare Roster.

The SAAs are crucial to keeping CreativeGround up-to-date and relevant; as SAA staff come across outdated profiles – for organizations that no longer exist, for example - they flag the profiles so the CreativeGround staff can address as needed. They also assist CreativeGround in forging new partnerships with regional arts organizations, artist and performer associations and leagues, cultural districts, and other cohorts who would benefit from the range of opportunities CreativeGround provides to them and are invested in keeping the profiles current. The SAAs also cross-promote CreativeGround at workshops or meetings they host around their state, and keep CreativeGround staff aware of important conferences or events at which the site should have a presence.

As CreativeGround grows and evolves, the SAAs will continue to be a vital part of this process – providing input, feedback on new ideas, and marketing it to their constituents. CreativeGround will see much growth over the next few years and will do so with the help of the SAAs, each of which bring their own vision and goals for the directory as well as their hope for what role they see CreativeGround playing in their state’s creative sector.
Champions in the form of organizations and associations are vital to support the growth and success of CreativeGround. 

Champions can help by hosting a CreativeGround workshop, pointing constituents and members to use CreativeGround as a networking and promotional tool, reviewing the profiles in your community and helping us keep them up-to-date and relevant, and generally helping to spread the message of CreativeGround as a valuable New England asset. For more ways on how to engage, visit CreativeGround or email creativeground@nefa.org.

CreativeGround Fun Facts by State

Connecticut is the site of many pivotal historical events. See 242 Connecticut historical commissions or societies on CreativeGround here.
There are 35 artists in Maine listed in CreativeGround who work with wood or bark. After all, more than 85% of the state is covered with forests - it's no wonder artists would use it as their preferred medium! See the full list here.
From libraries to presenting arts organizations, Massachusetts has plenty of great places to see concerts, performances, or assemblies of all types. Take a look at 70 of these organizations here.
Peterborough, New Hampshire is home to the first tax-supported library in the world - established in 1833. 182 years later, there are 335 libraries in New Hampshire. See the full list of libraries and friends of the libraries listed on CreativeGround here.
Rhode Island is well known for its talented jewelry-makers. There are 19 artists or galleries in CreativeGround making and selling jewelry - take a look.
Vermont Arts Council is celebrating their 50th year with a year-long festival called Vermont Arts 2015. There are endless numbers of events happening throughout the year. It's no wonder - there are 258 Vermont artists, creative businesses, and cultural nonprofits in CreativeGround offering events ranging from artist markets to performances. See the full list of them here.


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