NATCHEZ — By Terri Ferguson Smith
Turning creativity into cash can be a daunting task for artists, but it is possible through proper preparation. A free workshop designed to help artists market themselves and their creative works is set for this week in Meridian.
"Just Create It — Creative Strategies for Economic Development” will be held at 10 a.m. at the MSU Riley Center on Thursday. The conference will help creative people identify ways to turn their talents into business opportunities and show existing owners how they can use art, music, culture and heritage to grow their businesses, according to event organizers.
Karen Rooney, executive director of Meridian Main Street, said they got on board with the workshop as part of their ongoing entrepreneurship series.
"It's all about trying to get creatives — your artists, writers, musicians, potters — all those types of people to be able to give them the skills they need to grow their business, which helps all of us," Rooney said. "Meridian has so much in the arts already. We have such a rich creative economy now, we're just trying to capitalize on it."
Keynote speakers for the conference are Malcolm White, director of the Mississippi Development Authority’s Tourism Division, and Allison Winstead, community and economic director with the Mississippi Arts Commission.
“Mississippi’s creative economy is a direct source of economic growth and wealth, accounting for more than 60,000 jobs across the state. We look at museums right next to manufacturing plants, and creative enterprises next to industrial facilities,” White said. “From print shops and music venues to art galleries, restaurants and other innovative businesses, the creative economy provides sustainable economic contributions to the state.”
Richelle Putnam of the Montgomery Institute, is a freelance writer, an editor and a teaching artist with the Mississippi Arts Commission. She is also a speaker for the Mississippi Humanities Council. Putnam said panel discussions will provide helpful information for artists.