Looking Forward: The Business of Creativity
This week, we’re stepping out of the kitchen and taking a break from your regularly scheduled Biscuit. We’ll still be covering Charlotte creativity daily on our Instagram, Twitter and Facebook feeds, but with the first quarter of 2021 drawing to a close today, we want to share what our focus will be in April … and the remainder of 2021:
The Business of Creativity
Your immediate reaction may be that “business” doesn’t seem creative. But, we think the two are inextricably linked because we’re concerned about the long-term viability of the creatives behind their work.
Since launching The Biscuit in January 2019, we’ve published just shy of 1,000 stories about the creative community at work here. In each, we’ve tried to convey two main points:
- Charlotte’s creative community is strong.
- And, creatives are a vital part of the Queen City’s identity and our economy.
We believe that. We hope you do, too. But, there need to be more of us who champion creatives.
Is Charlotte a place where creatives can thrive?
As we debate the future of arts funding and the role of creatives in our community, we must remember that every gig creative or creative collective is a small business. It’s how they earn their living. Too often, it’s only a part of how they earn their living.
Many creatives hold down one or two jobs in order to do the work. It shouldn’t have to be that way. Not in a city with our economy and with our powerful creative community.
Taking pride in our creative community.
As we said, creatives contribute to our quality of life and our economy. They make Charlotte a vibrant place to live, but their talents (when truly valued and supported) also allow them to make a living and employ others.
Economic development needs to embrace micro, as well as macro, development. Charlotte is a business town. So, as a community, we should be proud of the business prowess and adaptability of our creatives.
It’s our job as Charlotteans — and it’s in our best interest — to help creatives build. We need to pay them fairly. We need to allow them to fail and learn, just as other businesses fail and learn. We need to provide affordable places for creative entrepreneurs to work. We need to remove obstacles. Charlotte should be a place where creatives can start their careers and grow them, successfully, over time.
Our creatives should rally us together, unite us and be a source of community pride, as much as the Panthers or the Hornets do.
For that to happen, we all need to pitch in. And, our city will be better for it.
If one of these squares we’re posting on social media describes you, please download it, use it and share it. Be seen. Be heard. Be valued.
Tim Miner & Matt Olin
Charlotte Is Creative
How can you help? If you want to help the creative community, here are some things you can do right now.
Reach out to your City and County representatives and let them know you think arts funding is critical. Vote — always — but especially when arts-related legislation is on the ballot. Tell your employer that supporting creatives is important to you and a great way to build your brand. Organizing experiences with local creatives inside companies or as part of a company’s community work is something we can help you with.
If you’re not ready for the above, talk to your neighbors. Share your insights and experiences on the creative community. What we say out loud influences how we — and those who hear us — think about a given topic. So, let’s change the narrative. Charlotte isn’t a “boring city.” We’re not just a busy city. We’re not just “a few hours away from the beach and the mountains.” We are an immensely creative region. Let’s own that. Let’s believe that. Others will follow. We’ve already seen it happen.
If you see creative work or acts you like, share it on social media, tag the artists and use the hashtag #charlotteiscreative (It is our name, but — more importantly — it’s a truth we want everyone in Charlotte and beyond to recognize.)
We work hard to present you with stories of the creative people, places, history, ideas and happenings we think you should know about. If they touch you, please send them to others. If you read a story we wrote about a creative that excites you, reach out to them. We always supply ways to follow and contact at the bottom of every story. And, if you know of someone we should know about … tell us.
Our HUG Microgrant Program provides $250 grants to individuals and organizations developing public-facing creative work in Charlotte. These funds are designed to nudge a great or innovative idea forward or remove an obstacle to success … and private donors and sponsors have helped us give out more than 260 of these grants ($65,000!) in three years! Please consider making a donation in any amount here. We’ll put it … and a creative … to work.
Vote with your dollars by buying art or hiring a creative to work on a project for you and pay them fairly. Go to shows (in real life or virtual). Tip creatives when you like their work. Take a chance on someone new.
If you would like to be kept in the know about the next meeting of CreativeMornings/Charlotte, sign up here. We have met 66 months in a row, on the first Friday of each month, and have introduced thousands of Charlotteans to cool creatives in real life … and lately on Zoom .. and hopefully in person again, soon!
We’re also believers in support and collaboration. In addition to CreativeMornings/Charlotte, we’re proud to have helped community projects like Charlotte SHOUT!, ACT:NOW, the Black Lives Matter mural and more come to life. This past weekend, 50+ artists of color and street artists displayed their work for three days during LOCAL/STREET at the Mint Museum — an exhibition curated by Carla Aaron-Lopez. We helped her make that happen and can’t wait to be part of what she does next.
These are just a few ways to support the creative community and our nonprofit, Charlotte Is Creative. There are many more. What’s most important is that you get involved. Don’t admire the creative community from afar. Dive in and help out. There’s no “official” way to do it … no ring you need to kiss, no test you need to pass, no pedigree required.
If you see something that excites you, get started. Ask how you can help. It can be as simple as extending your social capital to introduce a creative to someone who can help them or carrying buckets of paint for a mural artist. Once you take that first step, more will come. If you can join a board or write a check to support a creative individual or organization in Charlotte, that’s awesome. But, donating your time, love and energy is just as awesome.