Creative Institute Celebrates 3 Years Advancing Arkansas’s Creative Workforce

Conway Institute of Music

Conway, AR – The Creative Institute of Central Arkansas is celebrating 3 years of serving artists and creative professionals from downtown Conway. The 501(c)3 nonprofit organization provides workshops and courses for creative professionals as well as regular community arts events.

Throughout the rest of 2023, the Creative Institute will share weekly videos from artists, students, and partners whose lives and careers have been changed by the organization’s programs and staff. You can learn more about the Creative Institute and follow along by visiting creativeinstitutear.org or follow @creativeinstitutear on Facebook or Instagram.

The Creative Institute was founded on Oct. 26, 2020 with a vision to cultivate a creative hub in Arkansas that attracts and produces diverse, nationally competitive talent. The first program to launch was the Emerging Talent Program, a one-year training program for students 18+ interested in design, marketing, and video production. “As a design agency owner, I recognized the issues local agencies in Arkansas face in finding and keeping great talent,” says Jessica Crum, Co-Founder and Board Chair, “I had no idea that offering career and technical style training for white collar creative industry jobs was an innovation—it just seemed obvious to be as hands-on and experiential as possible.”

The Creative Institute
The Creative Institute

On Oct. 21, 2021, the Creative Institute revived the Conway Art Walk, last held in 2014. The monthly event brings live music, art demonstrations, and artists from across the region to downtown Conway. “The average attendee of an arts event spends $38.46 per person, per event—not including ticket sales. We’re bringing 500-800 people to downtown Conway every month. If you do the math, that’s $20-30,000 in economic impact.” says Nick Stevens, Executive Director at the Creative Institute.

The Conway Downtown Partnership awarded the Creative Institute’s Co-Founder, Jessica Crum, the Conway Downtown Award of Distinction for 2022 in recognition of her commitment to arts and culture in Downtown Conway.

This year, the Creative Institute made the Emerging Talent Program tuition-free. “As a board member of this organization, a community member, and an executive in a local business, I’m committed to rallying other community leaders together to make this program accessible for these students,” says Jennifer Mouser, Board Secretary for the Creative Institute, “Because this program is life changing for students and we need skilled, qualified applicants to apply for the jobs in our community.”

Due to requests from working professionals, the Creative Institute also opened an array of courses and workshops to the public this year. Courses focus on digital marketing, photo and video, graphic design, project management, and leadership development.

The Creative Institute
The Creative Institute

Looking ahead, the Creative Institute is planning an industry summit in partnership with the Winthrop Rockefeller Institute, planned for September 2024. “Arkansas is expected to add over 4,000 new creative industry jobs in the next five years. Most of those jobs require training and experience, but not a four year degree,” says Nick Stevens, “so we will continue to work with employers in the industry to expand training opportunities for Arkansans to enter these careers.”

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