What is a Creative Conversation?

A Creative Conversation gathers community leaders to discuss local arts, culture, and creativity to generate partnerships and increased energy around the grassroots movement to elevate the arts in America during National Arts & Humanities Month in October. Past participants learned about the state of their local arts and creative industry, explored new ideas to strengthen their community with the arts, and ignited connections that spurred movements and actions that work to ensure that every American has access to the transformative power of the arts. 

During the past few years, Creative Conversations have taken many forms, including:

  • Brown-bag lunches with colleagues within and outside the arts  to discuss local arts issues, cross-sector collaboration, and building a career in arts administration.

  • Professional development workshops on work-life balance, crisis management, audience development, fundraising, etc.

  • Panel sessions and moderated interviews with politicians, funders, representatives of other industries, and local arts leaders.

  • Full-day symposia with keynote speakers, professional development workshops, networking sessions, and more.

Past topics have included “What is your power to make change through the arts?,” “Town Hall Meeting on the State of Dance in Cincinnati,” and “Make a Scene: Activating Local Arts & Culture Media.”

The Emerging Leaders Network has had a long history of being at the forefront of these conversations. The conversation can be a casual happy hour, a moderated panel, a facilitated small group discussion, a collaborative art project or any other format that will spark a real and productive exchange of ideas. This year's topic is: 

How is the past shaping the future of the arts?

National conversations will center on the topic How is the Past Shaping the Future of the Arts but your community can focus or customize the conversation in any way that feels relevant to your audience and your region’s unique challenges. Sample discussion questions include:

How is the past shaping the future of the arts in your community?

  • Past/History: How have significant historical events in your community affected the arts?
  • Present/Engagement & Relevancy: Who has historically been included and excluded in envisioning the arts and culture in your community, and what efforts are you making to include underrepresented voices?
  • Future/Equity: What is the role of the arts in addressing historical inequities and fostering equitable communities now and in the future?

How is the past shaping the future of the arts at your organization?

  • Past/Programming: How has your organization's work been informed by past failures and successes?
  • Present/Innovation: How does your organizations encourage out of the box thinking while acknowleding existing effective practices?
  • Future/Succession: What efforts is your organization making to ensure successful, inclusive leadership transitions?

Why host a Creative Conversation?

To advance your local arts community by increasing connections, advancing dialogue, and developing your leadership. Creative Conversations are a local tool that empowers arts administrators to take a leadership role in their community by both designing programming and galvanizing peers to connect professionally.

Some of these local gatherings have grown into organized emerging leaders networks, been the catalyst for the development of community cultural plans, and have even helped shape local arts advocacy by connecting the cultural sector with the business community and political leadership.

How do I host a Creative Conversation?

The first step is to form a core planning team and then decide on the audience, topic, format, space, and date. Once that is squared away (whew!) post your event on our ArtsMeet National Event calendar and alert your networks and media.

Here are some tools and information to help you plan your Creative Conversation:


To learn more about hosting a Creative Conversation in your community, check out our webinar, "Join the Movement: Host Your Own Creative Conversation." 


How do I attend a Creative Conversation near me?

You can find a local Creative Conversation by searching our ArtsMeet National Event calendar, where organizations and individuals add their arts events for the month of October and throughout the year.

How do I let you know about my event?

Are you or your organization hosting a Creative Conversation this year? We want to knowabout it! Take a moment to fill out our National Arts & Humanities Month Interest Form letting us know what you have planned.