Expanding The Creative Capital Network

by Paddy Johnson on July 30, 2012 · 0 comments Dispatch From Williamstown

This photographic evidence of an attendee with a water bottle was found on the Creative Capital blog. No food or drink is allowed in the auditorium.

In an introduction post to Creative Capital’s eighth retreat, President and Executive Director Ruby Lerner describes the event as the “crown jewels of a system we have developed to support our artists’ projects.” Their goal “is to encourage long-term relationship-building among grantees, and between grantees and arts professionals.” As a past grantee myself, (I won an Arts Writers grant in 2008), I can say without any hesitation that it’s working.

These conferences offer grantees an amazing opportunity to connect with other artists and a wide range of curators, distributors, and artistic directors through mixers, meetings with consultants, and artist presentations. They also ask grantees to return to the conference every couple of years, which keeps them in touch with a constantly expanding network of creative art folk.

The people I’ve met through Creative Capital over the last four years have undoubtedly helped me build the blog, though it’s probably worth noting that anyone who’s doing the “hard networking” thing probably won’t get very far. There seems to be the understanding here that meaningful relationships occur when you’re excited about what someone’s mind is doing, not when you’re being networked. This was evidenced this morning in an anecdote told to me by an artist at the retreat: “I spent a lot of time figuring out which [consultants] could best help my career my first year, and when I met with them nothing came of it. When I came back three years later I read the consultant biographies and chose the people who were doing the craziest shit, and all sorts of things happened”.

Opportunities for the organization itself were made especially visible this time around, as Creative Capital embarked on its first live fundraising effort. In less than 48 hours they had not only met their $50,000 fundraising goal for a crowd-sourced artist award, they had more than doubled it.

Those numbers are very impressive, and undoubtedly a cumulative result of the energy built from viewing the 71 seven-minute artist presentations over the weekend. I’ll be highlighting a few of those in the coming week, but it’s worth noting now that I spent much of the weekend disappointed that more of the retreat wasn’t shared with the public. With only a few exceptions, the quality of the work presented was extremely high, a point that was observed consistently throughout the retreat by its attendees.

Then again, I wouldn’t have been invited if the organization weren’t interested in exposing more people to the lifeblood of the retreat, so I’d guess the introduction of a Livestream or something similar isn’t that far in the future. Whatever the form of distribution, it’ll be great news when it arrives. Experiences like this are wonderful, and made that much better when shared.

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