By Andrea Orlando

Community Director

The National Consortium for Creative Placemaking

Something extraordinary happens when you assemble creative leaders from across a region. They connect, learn, share and generate an almost palpable positive energy. No challenge is too vast, too complicated, too entrenched when creative minds are on the job.

Columbia, South Carolina was the setting for the 2019 Creative Placemaking Leadership Summit | South and Appalachia last week, and our host city showed off its creative assets in a big way with a social event at the Columbia Museum of Art, and field workshops to the Richland Library, a guided art walk, and tours of Stormwater Studios, the 701 Center for Contemporary Art, and Indie Grits Lab's 'Duke House.'

The overarching theme for the event was Building Bridges, but another sub-theme rose to the surface as if from a collective consciousness: storytelling as the means to connection, home and collaboration. In his plenary address, Kiran Singh Sirah, President of the International Storytelling Center, said, "listening leads to understanding, understanding leads to connection, connection leads to peace."

The Summit attracted 282 participants from 21 states and more than 180 organizations. Instructors who led breakout workshop sessions employed narrative-sharing exercises to help Summit attendees internalize lessons. Two officials from the Mississippi Museum of Art told the story of how they prepared their staff for the installation of provocative art and asked participants to share personal yarns in response to the following prompt: tell about a time when you felt welcomed.

Candida Gonzalez of Forecast Public Art led a popular session on the art of storytelling as a means to gain support for creative placemaking projects. Even one of the field workshops focused on the power of documentary film and photography to convey tales of rural places.

We hope the photographs below convey the spirit of this event, but what we'd really like is for you to attend our Summits to receive that jet pack of potential energy that only comes from being in the company so many inspiring individuals.

In the meantime, we can bring you some of the flavor through our podcast, CreativePlace. While at the Summit we recorded interviews with Jordyne Krumroy of Welcoming America, Janeen Bryant of Facilitate Movement, LLC., SaBrina Jeffcoat of African Trading Company, Ltd. Co, Tony Tallent of the Richland Library, and Monique Davis and Betsy Bradley of the Mississippi Museum of Art. Subscribe to our podcast to stay up-to-date on new episodes.

We thank our Summit supporters, ArtPlace America, South Arts, the Levitt Foundation, the South Carolina Arts Commission, Art Works, the National Endowment for the Arts, McClure, the Cultural Planning Group, and Metris Arts Consulting. We also thank the following organizations for all they have contributed: the Alabama State Council on the Arts, the Appalachian Community Fund, Appalshop, Art of the Rural, Arizona State University, Bryan County, Buena Vista Arts Council, the Center for Disease Control, the City of Charleston, the City of Roswell, GA, Civic Lex, Coalfield Development, Community LIFT, the Council on Culture and Arts, Tallahassee, Cyberwoven, Designing Local, Donnelley Foundation, the Florida Division of Cultural Affairs, the Georgia Council for the Arts, the Jen Lewin Studio, the Kentucky Arts Council, Looking Glass Creative, the LA Office of Cultural Development, Metro Arts Nashville, TN, the Mississippi Arts Commission, the National Performance Network, the North Carolina Arts Council, Pinellas Park, FL, Shreveport Common, Significant Developments, the State of West Virginia, Tamarack Foundation, the Tennessee Arts Commission, TGKVF, UF Center for Arts in Medicine, Vintage Theater Company, Welcoming America and Wonderroot.

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