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The Creativity World Forum heralds the role of innovation and connectivity in the global economy



Creativity World Forum
Cox Convention Center
1 Myriad Gardens

Hundreds of delegates from around the world will descend on Oklahoma City on Monday to discuss the value of creativity. A forum on creativity might seem nebulous, but organizers of the 2010 Creativity World Forum believe that it is fundamental to the continued maturation of Oklahoma commerce, education and culture.

Held annually in one of the 12 International Districts of Creativity, the forum serves as a hub of information, linking cultural, educational and business leaders in hopes of sharing information, techniques and sculpting ideas on how to advance into the global age. A series of speeches, Q-and-A periods and other events featuring prominent creative minds will spread the mission of encouraging innovation in every aspect of life, as well as promoting collaboration.

Susan McCalmont, Creative Oklahoma's vice chairman of the board, insisted the forum isn't just about back-patting and schmoozing with international delegates, and that Oklahoma has already reaped benefits in the last three years since the state officially became the first creative district in the United States.

"There have been tangible things that have occurred because of the work of Creative Oklahoma," she said. "We were instrumental in bringing the first robotic regional competition that was previously in Houston to Oklahoma City. When it was in Houston, there were only one or two Oklahoma teams competing, but this year at the Cox Convention Center, there were 53."

McCalmont added that the creation of the Academy of Contemporary Music at the University of Central Oklahoma stemmed from discussions between Creative Oklahoma board members Scott Booker, ACM at UCO CEO; UCO President Roger Webb; and an adviser from England who was familiar with the Liverpool ACM.

"Oftentimes, staff or board members of the organization have been catalysts to something that didn't exist before, and then helping with either financial support or resource support to give weight to the creative endeavors," McCalmont said. "We also have had a pool of funding from a variety of sources that have allowed us to make small grants available for teachers engendering creativity in the classroom, called Sparks Awards."

Olympic gymnast Bart Conner, a vocal proponent of Creative Oklahoma, will act as an emcee during the forum, which he sees as an important showcase for the state's often-overlooked creative minds.
"I'm a big cheerleader for Oklahoma," he said. "Any time we can highlight the creative and fantastic things happening here, it would be a great thing."

Conner said creativity played a critical role in his career after the Olympics, which went beyond serving as Olympic commentator every four years, but also running a gym, website and magazine.

"As an athlete who competed 26 years ago in the Olympics, I've had to create a career for myself," he said. "There is no predictable path for an Olympic gymnast to make a living and create a company. If you are a baseball player competing at a high level, there is a path to follow. If you are a teacher at a high level, there is an industry for you. There is no course for Olympic gymnasts, no career opportunity unless you create it."

Oklahoma's advances in education will be highlighted during the program. A+ Schools Executive Director Jean Hendrickson said any strong economy starts with a strong educational system.

"That is one of those things that we have been able to bring to the table: our understanding of education as a true economic driver," Hendrickson said. "Education develops a workforce that can enact other creative drivers."

In the effort to find new ways to teach and assess students' retention, Oklahoma A+ Schools found a partner in A New Direction, which is a similar effort in London. Students from both programs have been communicating online, comparing school experiences and discussing opportunities for learning. Twenty students and 11 adults from A New Direction will be traveling to the forum to meet Oklahoma students.

Linking creative minds is what Hendrickson said is the true value of the forum.

"The key to the Creativity Forum is not about taking someone else's idea and trying it out," Hendrickson said. "It's about bringing together creative minds to come up with new ideas as a group, in a way that wouldn't have happened otherwise." "Charles Martin

2010 Creativity World Biennale
Art lovers will be afforded a unique opportunity during the Creativity World Forum: the introduction of the event's first Biennale.

Modeled after the Venetian contemporary art exhibition held every two years, the invitational will be hosted by [Artspace] at Untitled and features the work of 13 individual artists or groups.

"A biennale differs from art expos which are geared to sell art, and unfortunately, what happens is you see the same things repeated, since artists don't change dramatically from year to year," Untitled Executive Director Jon Burris said. "With a biennale, the work is not for sale, so it is just an honor to be accepted."

A sneak preview ($25 admission) will be held from 6 to 10 p.m. Sunday in honor of attending artists from Denmark, Flanders, Germany, Rio de Janeiro, Scotland and Oklahoma. The official opening is 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 17, at the Biennale Street Party, which is open to the public. The exhibit runs through Jan. 8, 2011.

"I have been to other biennales around the world, and I've begun to see artists using new processes with computer-based technologies and other methods and materials that were not available even a few years ago to make new types of art," Burris said. "A lot of these installations will be immersive; it isn't a piece you stand 10 feet away and just look at. As soon as you walk into the space, you are immersed in the experience of what the artist has made. What you will see in this exhibit will be unlike anything you've seen in Oklahoma galleries. They will be new ideas of how to present art." "Charles Martin

photo Bart Conner will emcee the Creativity World Forum. Photo/Mark Hancock

See the full list of speakers here.

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