If you've ever had experience in workforce or economic development, simply hearing the word "conference" can instill a sense of panic or send you running for the hills. Personally, I've spent countless hours in hotel meeting rooms listening to presenters share their experiences... trying to make sense of their powerpoint slides and figuring out what any of it has to do with me.
However, a recent conference sponsored by the New York State Council on the Arts (NYSCA) has changed my perception and, in fact, inspired me to work harder in all that I do. Of course, it helps that everything I do aligns with the overall message of this day-long conference, put on to help create a stronger voice for the arts and stimulate economic growth in New York State.
"Cultural Blueprints" is described as "an unprecedented opportunity for the arts, economic development, tourism, business, education, civic and philanthropic communities to develop new ways to work toward [a] mutual goal - improving the lives of New Yorkers." As their website so accurately states, "it was born out of the recognition that the arts have had a long history of serving as a vital catalyst for economic development throughout the state of New York while at the same time generating new resources which strengthen the cultural infrastructure of the state."
The best part about it is that it forces participants to leave with a few concrete action steps that they can take, as artistic and/or development leaders, to work toward the overall goal. And no matter how big or small these steps may be, the point is to start a ripple effect throughout the state.
Personally and for the sake of New Yorkers and their artistic ventures, I hope this entire initiative is wildly successful. You can help by contributing thoughts and ideas for supporting the arts in your own region on this blog or on the Cultural Blueprints Blog.
I have to end by giving credit to some of the wonderful people I met while participating in the 'Southern Tier' portion of this conference: Helicon Consultant Alexis Frasz and President Holly Sidford, and of course NYSCA Executive Director Heather Hitchens and her colleague Sasha Soreff. The locality of the conference for me was made possible by Ginnie Lupi at the ARTS of the Southern Finger Lakes. This was a brilliant idea that came to fruition just in time for New York State - and will continue to make a positive impact on the economy while everything else seems to be doing just the opposite.