Local Creative Industries Inform the Tech Council

The Importance and Impact of Creative Enterprises in Forsyth County

IMG_8551 Margaret Collins presented at the recent Tech Council Briefing hosted by the Winston-Salem Chamber on December 2nd. Collins provided an overview of the Creative Economy in NC and the Triad, sharing definitions, numbers and statistics. She sited Fast Company magazine’s June 2015 story, U.S. Creative Jobs are Driving Economies. “It’s the designers, actors, and artists that make cities interesting. The rest of us just take advantage, ” and noted that “cities actively recruiting creative industries include Austin, Portland, Philadelphia, Nashville, New York, & Santa Fe.” Collins encouraged the Winston-Salem community to step up and get engaged with the full spectrum of creative industries to help stimulate our local economy.

Margaret also moderated a distinguished panel, which included Chad Cheek from Elephant In The Room, Corey Madden of the Thomas S. Kenan Institute for the Arts, and Peter Marsh from Workplace Strategies and Flywheel. Together, they shared what creative industries need to thrive, the challenges they face, and how our creative economy compares to other cities. Encouraging the community to support these industries was an important thread throughout the conversation.

IMG_8556Madden from the Kenan Institute explained that the UNC School of the Arts is very interested in connecting with the creative industries in the Triad. Chancellor Lindsey Bierman is focused on how the performing arts fit into the larger arts and entertainment industries, and is realistic about where creatives are now working. Pixar was created by individuals who came from the American theater and helped developed the process, story, and teams, for animation. Museums work with visual and experience design. The performing arts are experiencing disruption and UNCSA is educating students for the new careers developing in creative industries.

How can Winston-Salem support our creative industries? Peter Marsh shared that the community needs to develop an entrepreneurial mindset that supports risk taking and failure. Our leaders need to take a chance on startups, projects coming out of universities, and talented local resources. We can no longer depend on legacy wealth but must develop new resources and talent.

IMG_8553 (1)Chad Cheek discussed how he attracts national talent to Winston-Salem. He looks for creatives that can “design for looking great in the world, not just in Winston Salem.” The global marketplace forces a client’s projects to exist in the world, not just locally. So the firm’s design talent must stand up to that scrutiny. They have risen to this challenge, with great results for the business. In addition several live downtown, and enjoy an urban lifestyle in the heart of Winston-Salem.

All panelists commented on the importance of establishing Winston Salem as a creativity hub. It’s more affordable than Portland, NY, or Austin. It is gritty, and not a complete canvas. Creatives can make an impact here.

An essential step for growing creative industries in Winston is for all businesses to work with the local creative talent. Both Workplace Strategies, and Elephant In The Room have developed projects for local businesses, which grew nationally with their clients when the services were needed elsewhere. Their work increased exponentially as the local client’s business grew. This is a great model, which has proven successful. The panelists encouraged all businesses to hire local creatives for projects and opportunities. There is enormous talent available in our community.

In fact, the 2014 national Print Regional Design Awards ranks Winston-Salem creative firms #1 in the southeast region for the sheer number of awards they receive! Winston leads Atlanta, Charleston, and Raleigh.

Winston-Salem’ creative industries are talented and growing. Hire the local team. They will accelerate your business!

Have YOU hired a local business lately? Please share your experiences!