Creative minds join in workshop

   Jill Hammes is a print maker or graphic artist, whichever term you wish to use, who is in her 50s and not very savvy when it comes to social media or producing a website for her growing business.Thursday, Hammes, and many others like her in the creative arts community, gathered at the MSU Riley Center for a workshop that they hoped would enlighten and excite them.

The workshop, “Just Create It – Creative Strategies for Economic Development,” was organized to help creative people identify ways to turn their passion and talents into business opportunities, and to show existing owners how they can use art, music, culture and heritage to grow their businesses, according to Karen Rooney, executive director of Meridian Main Street.

Hammes said she wanted to learn how to use Facebook, Twitter, and other social media to get the word out to as many people as possible.

“I didn’t grow up with all this technology and while I’m not completely illiterate when it comes to computers and social media, there are still a lot of things I can learn,” Hammes said. “It can all get confusing.”

Allison Winstead, Community and Economic Director for the Mississippi Arts Commission, said the arts is in the culture of Mississippi.

“Creativity is everywhere,” Winstead told the group. “Now, we are getting studies that are showing us that arts and entertainment can be the driving force to the overall economy.”

The panel discussions were set up covering such topics as, How Creatives Do Business, How To Grow Your Business, and How To Participate as an Artist in Education. The panelists covered local and state experts in the arts and the creative ideas that drive people to go into music, culinary arts, painting, sculpting, and much more.

Marty Gamblin, who before becoming the director for the Mississippi Arts and Entertainment Center, spent 40 years in the music industry.

“I have traveled a great deal in my music career and I’ve discovered that Mississippi has had a fantastic talent pool of people,” Gamblin said. “But so many people who think of arts and entertainment don’t consider the economic impact that can have on a community, state and region of the country.”

Meridian Mayor Percy Bland said before the workshop began that Meridian is the state’s epicenter for the arts and entertainment. He was excited for the workshop to be held in Meridian because it brought together some of the best creative minds in the state as well as from the immediate area and Meridian.

“Meridian plays an important part with helping to generate the creative mind in business,” Bland said. “If we make the creative arts a stronger part of our economy, then we will reap the benefits both financially and culturally.”

Tim Moore is the coordinator for Leadership Neshoba, a group of juniors from Neshoba County and Philadelphia schools. He brought about a dozen of his students to the workshop hoping it would inspire them into greater things.

“They are all aspiring to be something, they just don’t know exactly what yet,” Moore said of his young charges. “I hope they will gain some knowledge about the arts and entertainment options and how being creative can be something they can build a career.”

The workshop was presented in cooperation with Meridian Main Street, The Montgomery Institute, EMBDC Chamber of Commerce, Mississippi Development Authority, and the Mississippi Arts Commission.

Courtesy of The Meridian Star