Woman outside smiles in front of autumnal trees
Community Engagement Coordinator, Creative Economy

I, Morganna Becker, joined the CreativeGround team as the Program Associate in January 2018, and what an amazing year of growth it has been for me as a new NEFAn and for CreativeGround. I’ve so immensely enjoyed getting to learn more about the creative sector through the engaging, leading fieldwork being done here in New England, but even more so, I’ve enjoyed connecting with the various users of CreativeGround online, on the phone, and face to face. I feel empowered by the creative work being done here in New England as well as the research being conducted on the importance of the creative economy, and I’m inspired by the translation of the importance of creative work across sectors.

I am beyond excited that the CreativeGround team was able to engage in a planning process to take this online community to new heights, and that we’ve been able to approach this sustainable growth planning with a mindfulness to equity, diversity, inclusion, and accessibility. Year Five has been good to CreativeGround, and the stats, events, and imminent plans reflect that. Here’s my highlight reel:

On the 'Ground

  • Over 101,000 visits to the site
  • Over 2500 hours of use
  • Nearly 400 new profile creations
  • 134 existing profiles claimed by users (over 1100 claimed in the past five years)

Diggin' In

The tops searches across the site included:

  • Vermont profiles, zip code-specific searches, group drumming, artist live/work space, and Spanish-speaking teaching artists
  • Top keyword phrases included: chamber music, Africa, fabric workshops and American history
  • Popular disciplines to browse by included circus, dance, and visual arts

Off the 'Ground, In Your Town

  • Visited all six New England states gathering input for site enhancements and feedback as well as dreams for the future of CreativeGround and New England’s creative economy
  • Exhibiting or presenting at fifteen events including the New England Library Association Conference, the Mass Cultural Council Institute, the Radically Rural conference in NH, and the Vermont Creative Network convening.
  • Five office hours and workshops held to help creatives get familiar with the site
  • Distributed thousands of postcards across New England to match unclaimed profiles with their owners

To Higher 'Ground

  • Coordinating our travel for this upcoming year – please email creativeground@nefa.org to get a visit to your locale on our calendar.
  • Revealing our plan for sustainable growth of CreativeGround created by our partners, Verge Arts Group
  • Spring cleaning – Explore your community on CreativeGround and flag out of date profiles and/or tell your neighbors to freshen up their online presence!

And on the Horizon

  • Acquired new funding to create a plan for sustainable growth to guide CreativeGround into the future
  • Engaged with a dynamic team from Connecticut, Verge Arts Group, to plan towards a sustainable growth model for CreativeGround…

And now, a word from Verge about the CreativeGround planning process:

Are you curious about our planning process?  Embracing structural tension is a time-tested way to unleash creative thinking. To that end, we’ve been considering juicy paradoxes, such as:

  • Contemporary artists love interdisciplinary openness and highly specific micro-niches (we do, too!), yet data collection practices call for discrete categories.
  • A site can be designed to welcome and invite engagement in specific ways, yet how do we cultivate and reward emerging possibilities?

We’ve also been asking some big, fundamental questions, such as:

  • How have environmental conditions changed since the launch of the site five years ago, including what we now know about the creative economy with the publication of NEFA’s 2017 report Jobs in the New England Creative Economy and Why They Matter?
  • How can we make processes flow more cyclically so that CreativeGround may be understood and experienced as a system that maintains itself and supports long-term, collective well-being?

These are just a few of the ideas we’ve explored, along with the values or principles that inform CreativeGround and the opportunities and challenges that go with balancing the network’s assets. We look forward to sharing the results!