Erin Petersen
Creativity at work

The Cultural Alliance embarks on a new path

By - Apr 14th, 2011 01:24 am
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Last night, a healthy crowd of Milwaukee’s creative sector filled the open concept space at Moct in eager anticipation for the launch of Creative Alliance Milwaukee, Inc —  the new brand of the Cultural Alliance of Greater Milwaukee. Painters, designers, filmmakers and even County Executive- elect Chris Abele were in attendance as Executive Director Christine Harris took the podium to announce this latest endeavor.

It all began well over a year ago, when the Cultural Alliance embarked on Creativity Works!, an exhaustive effort to inventory the creative industries in the M7 region: Milwaukee, Kenosha, Ozaukee, Racine, Walworth, Waukesha and Washington counties. As part of a year-long study conducted by Mt. Auburn Associates, the Cultural Alliance found that creative industries provide a significant economic cluster across all seven counties, with more than 50,000 people employed in the project’s five defined creative enterprise segments: Design, divided into communications, built environment and product design; Culture and Heritage, i.e., museums, libraries and historic sites; Media and Film; Performing Arts; and Visual Arts and Crafts.

Creative Alliance Milwaukee, Inc. Executive Director Christine Harris

The studies also found that these creative industries were significant economic drivers; according to the U.N. Conference on Trade and Development, in 2008, despite a 12 percent overall decline in global trade, world trade of creative goods and services continued to expand, reaching $592 billion with an annual growth rate of 14 percent.

The full results of Mt. Auburn’s study can be found here, but suffice it to say that ample evidence was found to show that Milwaukee’s creative economy is a wellspring of possibilities. At the Creativity Works! presentation in January, Mt. Auburn Managing Partner Michael Kane said “I’ve never seen more potential to launch creative industry than in Milwaukee…[Milwaukee] is primed to go from cutting edge to leading edge.”

The challenge, though, is building a bridge between these industries to foster collaboration and growth.

That’s where Creative Alliance Milwaukee, Inc. comes in.

Based on the results of the Creativity Works! project, the Cultural Alliance of Greater Milwaukee re-branded and repositioned its business model, transitioning from just serving the non-profit arts sector to serving the needs and interests of a  thriving creative industries cluster, encompassing 67,000 workers across 4,100 businesses across the region. This also includes the launch of  The Creative Hub, a new website where “creativity meets commerce.”

Designed by SmartWave ConsultingSpreenkler and Fresh Coast Ventures, the new site provides powerful networking and marketing tools for businesses and individuals. For no fee, subscribers can create profiles with examples of their work or peruse and post job opportunities. Individual and business profiles become part of a user-friendly directory so that visitors can easily find what they’re looking for. Paid memberships (ranging from $100-$1000) offer a wealth of possibilities for promotion and cross-pollination, with invaluable networking capability and access to events and other resources.

And speaking of networking, the site is very social-media friendly with a section titled “Creative Thoughts,” a live twitter feed for users and fans. Want your tweets to pop up in their feed? Use the hashtag #CreativeMKE to join in.

The site is also working to develop and manage a Milwaukee Arts Education Directory, the region’s only online arts education resource. The directory would connect users to the arts education programs available to teachers and youth throughout the region.

“In order for creative businesses to survive, we need access to a pipeline of creative talent,” said Jill Morin, Board Co-Chair for Creative Alliance Milwaukee, Inc. and also Executive Officer at Kahler-Slater. Morin and Executive Director Christine Harris reiterated that a strong creative community depends on a commitment to arts in education. ” [Arts] curriculum offerings are a must in order for these industries to thrive,” said Morin.

While the organization is still in the process of re-branding ( Cascio Design is currently working on the group’s logo and other creative) and transition, The Creative Hub site is up and running, offering the first step to an efficient, interconnected creative community in the region. The timing only seems right; just as a warm breeze off of Lake Michigan ushered in a sense of springtime at Moct during last night’s launch, this new endeavor signals a significant change for Milwaukee’s artistic community — a time for rebirth, renewal and revitalization.

For more information, visit the Creative Alliance online.

0 thoughts on “Creativity at work: The Cultural Alliance embarks on a new path”

  1. Anonymous says:

    efficiency, efficiency, efficiency. at long last.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Very nice article.

    Two very small things.

    One, Smartwave Consulting deserves some of the credit for being part of the design/development team for the site along with my firm and Spreenkler. (

    Two, the Twitter feed only listens to the hashtag #creativemke

  3. Anonymous says:

    Thanks, Erin, for this wonderful report. We had a blast!

    One note – our Milwaukee Arts Education Directory is up and running and can be found at

    We really appreciate TCD’s support and it was great seeing you and Tom Strini there last night.

    Go creatives!

  4. Anonymous says:

    Thanks, Jeremey! I’ve corrected that info.

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