ZenStorming

Where Science Meets Muse

A Review of ‘Creative Milwaukee at Work’

Posted by Plish on September 30, 2012

“If you want a creative life, do what you can’t and experience the beauty of the mistakes you make”

“Cheating outside school is called collaboration”

On Friday, September 21, friend and colleague, Natasha Lyn Wier, went to the first Creative Milwaukee at Work summit.  Sponsored by the Creative Alliance Milwaukee, it was held at the MIAD (Milwaukee Institute of Art & Design).  The following are some of her thoughts, for which I am extremely grateful!  My thoughts on her thoughts will be in italics.  Based on what I heard and saw in pics, this is a must see next year.  

Just walking into MIAD to register and attend the opening of Milwaukee at Work, you could feel the attendees’ energy and eagerness to learn and share.  Attended by Milwaukee educators, creatives and business professionals, the one day conference was filled with panel discussions and breakout sessions geared towards the growth of creative professionals.  The variety of artists, designers, educators, and business professionals took part in 4 sessions of their choice, and an all-conference panel discussion.  With speakers ranging from successful start-ups to corporate company directors, sessions and panelists provided information on resources and tools to inspire growth, provide development and highlight thought-provoking issues specific to local Milwaukee Creatives. 

To start off my day I joined the first discussion panel of the morning: “The Role of Creative Education in Talent Development”.  The panel was comprised of department heads and educators from surrounding colleges: Alverno, MIAD, Marquette University, Mount Mary, and UW-M.  The topic presented for discussion originated from a talk given by Sir Ken Robinson and animated for the RSA (Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce): Changing Education Paradigms.  The world-renown education expert, Sir Ken Robinson, raised the question on the structure of formal instruction: How do we educate children for the 21st century?  He argued that the weakness of the current model is that is suits the time of the Enlightenment and the Industrial Revolution, all the while pointing to the challenges that need to be addressed for an economy that is ambiguously defined.

The question is not local, but the solutions envisioned by the Milwaukee area institutions were.  The Panelists each presented changes they’ve made to programs based upon their efforts to, “Try to solve Sir Robinson’s problem in Milwaukee”, as Associate Dean at the Peck School of the Arts of UW-Milwaukee, Scott Emmons, Ph. D put it.  Several locally conducted studies revealed that among employers, the number one item required was the ability to problem solve. (!!!) Discussion then followed on what changes to education can foster a creative society that not only meets the demands of today’s workplace, but defines how Milwaukee’s educational institutions could benefit today’s pupil’s, future professionals and employers.  This dialogue from the first session got the attention gears of all attendees moving at full capacity.  The pace for the convention was put in place from the first and most memorable discussion of the day.

“Connecting Your Creativity to Funding for Success: An Interactive Guide to Creating Resources”, given by MIAD’s Development Director, Ryan Daniels, presented keys to finding strategic and valuable resources for funding business and developments whether for-profit, non-profit or entrepreneurial ventures.  The information given during Ryan’s witty demonstration is not only to be applied in terms of funding, but also within professional development, networking, cross promotion and marketing.  The fact is that not one area of business can stand alone.  He made a point that building a network and developing connections, for example through events like Milwaukee at Work, leads to resources.  Resources, research and preparation then uncover value. Value is what helps one determine whether a proposal  is of benefit to both parties, which in the end will steer towards a win-win situation.  One constant and standout thought throughout the presentation was the coined [significant] term, “WIFM”, “What’s in it for me?” The term serves as a reminder to always uncover and determine value with each connection.  Value serves as a benefit as opposed to a feature which is a characteristic.  After touching upon some marketing and business fundamentals, Ryan finished by explaining that characteristics don’t sell anything (Yes, features don’t sell, value does!) and that, after all, “Life is selling - whether you are selling yourself, selling your artwork or selling your proposal.”

Creatives are necessary to the success equation of many industries, as well as to business, marketing and engineering disciplines.  The walls of these disciplines, which were before viewed as departments, (ever notice that ‘department’ and ‘compartment’ are similar?) are diminishing.  This collaboration among disciplines is also what our education system needs to have at the core of it.  Stories on creativity and business success were shared during the lunch discussion with panelists from GE Healthcare, Hanson Dodge Creative, an individual artist, Quad Graphics, and the United Performing Arts Fund.  Discussion covered the use of creative thinking for business purposes in areas where the use of creativity was not highly regarded as a means of providing success, and personal stories of how panelists’ careers evolved.

To round off my day, and fitting with the business aspect of innovative thinking,and wanting to further learn about the business side of design [in my case], I snagged the opportunity to attend “Creating Your Company: Plan, Progress, and Protect” and ended by putting my brain to work during a planning session called, “Help Design the Creative Milwaukee on Tour”. 

With support that precedes our own city, even state, Milwaukee has been a home and an incubator for the creative world through the constant development of our educational programs, the support of the arts through corporations and small business, and the wide array of offerings available.  The growth taken away from the conference, merely touched upon in this post, resembles Milwaukee in that sense, as both experiences require first-hand experience in order to inhale the inspiration it instills and embeds.  It is important to grow and support each other as a community, as we are known for, and develop plans to continue growth and retain talent.  Ultimately, events such as ‘Creative Milwaukee at Work,’ done by groups such as the Creative Alliance Milwaukee and the sponsoring foundations and companies, are dedicated to enhancing the community through creative work, and expanding the breadth  of innovative ideas.

If you went to the Creative Milwaukee at Work event and attended a different breakout session or have additional comments, please let your voice be heard. 

Information on the Creative Alliance Milwaukee, as well as a list of events, resources, job postings, and more can be found at creativealliancemke.org.

Thanks Natasha!!

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5 Responses to “A Review of ‘Creative Milwaukee at Work’”

  1. 3D Eye said

    “How do we educate children for the 21st century?” Through creative learning, creative teaching, critical thinking, problem solving and educating for all of our six intelligences: intellectual, personal, social, physical, instinctual and metaphysical/spiritual. Sounds like a great conference.

  2. Plish said

    Brilliant points! A local school district is on the verge of ripping out art and music from the curriculum. NOT the way to prepare a more creative lot for the future.

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

  3. 3D Eye said

    A whole school district? Unbelievable. A lot of schools only pay lip service to art and music in the curriculum anyway, but to say explicitly that children should have no access to these disciplines and ways into learning is complete philistinism. Let’s hope the parents have some different ideas on what children have a right to experience in schools.

  4. Plish said

    Many parents are looking forward to the next School Board Meeting. ;-)

  5. […] Sponsored by Creative Alliance Milwaukee, this year’s event promises to be even better than last year’s, and that’s saying a […]

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