SPEDA’s ABBBA workshop starts conversation about how to best leverage community’s creative resources
Somerset’s newly renovated downtown live performance venue, The Virginia, was full of creative energy July 12 during SPEDA’s first-ever Art Builds Business Builds Art (ABBBA) workshop. Nearly 30 creatives and innovators came together to raise the value of art and creativity in Somerset-Pulaski County.
The workshop, a partnership with the Kentucky Small Business Development Center and hosted by Vallorie Henderson and Stuart Arnold, introduced participants to design thinking, community collaboration projects and hands-on-exercises that explored how to leverage creative resources within the community. Participants ranged from tourism representatives to graphic designers and theater professionals, all who engaged in conversation about what Somerset-Pulaski County’s resources are and what opportunities are available to help them thrive and grow.
Flashback Theater Community Development Director Keifer Adkins was one of those participants. Adkins said the biggest takeaways for him were that collaboration is key — providing seats at the table and actively listening helps uncover what the needs are in the community.
“It is vital that we provide folks with proper access to resources, educating and helping one another build, as well as evolving our own ways of thinking,” Adkins said. “Going in with a mindset of ‘I have all the answers’ doesn’t allow us to build. We should constantly yearn to learn and seek out opportunities such as these; the end goal is paramount but the process allows us to share our stories with each other, and, in turn, develops a culture for our region. The crossroads of art and business is that culture, that quality of life that is so important to our future.”
SPEDA President and CEO Chris Girdler said he loved seeing the interaction and engagement from the group.
“Our community is rich in arts and cultural experiences and organizations, and that was never more evident than when we put all of these professionals in one room,” Girdler said. “There is increasing energy for growing our local creative economy and SPEDA was honored to facilitate this conversation.”
Girdler said SPEDA will survey the group, in coordination with KSBDC, to gauge interest in continuing the conversation and participating in future workshops to advance this effort.