I’m always a bit leery of special events called “Expo” “Convention” or “Rally.” The names conjure birds of a feather picking through rows of vendor tables, snagging pens and key chains for their swag bags, and popping from workshop to seminar in search of the The Next Big Thing. Perhaps it’s my fear of living in a corporate structure, or the year I spent on the road riding up a hotel elevator filled with drunken conventioneers, but “Create Denver Week,” kicked off by tomorrow’s all day “Create Denver Expo,” has me in paradoxical state of intrigue and trepidation.
As a founder of the Thriving Artist Alliance and Create Denver Week exhibitor/participant/presenter, I’ll be actively engaged with my swag squad and workshop poppers. There’s no easy exit. But a little voice inside – or is it wishful thinking? – tells me this Expo will be different, special.
For the last four years, the Denver Office of Cultural Affairs has brought together the creative community and the local businesses that support them for a group think about the Petri dish that is Denver’s cultural scene. And getting everyone, including some very heavy hitters, into the same room to talk strategy, policy, programming initiatives, technical assistance, and arts advocacy seems to be working. Colorado creatives are large drivers of Denver’s economy, and so it makes good sense for the city to invest its time and focus here. But often cities don’t make sense.
Mayor Hickenlooper calls this year “splashy,” and with multiple mingling ops, he might just be right. On top of the all-day info-slam of the Expo, events are planned throughout the city, throughout the week .
Saturday’s workshop topics include Turn Your Passion for the Arts into a Thriving Business, Arts-to-Business Marketing, Building Wealth with Real Estate, Performance on the Fringe. The one that hits all my buzz words is Time Management; the Artist and the Internet presented by MakeBigArt. Experts are on hand to review portfolios, as well as attorneys to answer copyright questions. There are presentations on the subjects of health insurance options for creatives, financial assistance, and business start-up, and an exhibition hall where you can find an expert to scratch whatever your itch.
I’ll be there too, wandering the aisles, collecting pens and key chains, working the booth, handing out pens and pamphlets, my Expo aversion only mildly concealed behind a smile.
(I trust you will find me smiling.)
As the week unfolds, there’ll be more skills and thrills, with events such as Yoga & Hoop Dance, Denver Kids Create, with the Flobots.org folk, a Pop-up Market, a Thriving Artist Alliance panel From Survival to Success to Significance, and of course the Launch Party.
Sounds like there’s plenty here to stimulate thought and the senses, but one dark thought plagues: Do we have a week’s worth of attention span? Hope so. Part think-tank, part talent show, part party, Denver should be alive with the buzz and frolic of the Creative Class. I for one am eager to see what programs are in place now that have come out of the Create Denver initiative and what will grow out of the week ahead.
What do I want out of all the activity? I’m hopeful about new connections made, old ties strengthened, and ideas – perhaps The Next Big Thing or two – generated. Our mayor seems to have a clear vision about his desired outcome: Hick’s office is looking to position Denver as “The Creative Capitol of the Rocky Mountain West.” But that sounds so yesterday to me. Aren’t we that already? I mean, what are we up against: Laramie?