Madison County's artisans were celebrated Tuesday evening at the Madison Square Center for the Arts for a creative economy showcase put on by the newly-formed Madison County Creative Council.
Photo: Members of the Madison County Creative Council include, front row, from left, Jackie Morey, Kasey Perry, Pam Mahony, Linda Bynum, Joann Gordon, Jan Collins, Lindsay Schilling, Susan Marquez, Jodi Maughon, Natoya Hill, Katie Hines and Gina Daniels; Back row, Lise Foyand Jana Padgett. Not pictured are Lenita Knight, Wendy Shelton and Mina Thorgeson.
Members of the Canton Chamber Main Street Association, Canton Convention & Visitors Bureau & Film Office, City of Ridgeland Chamber of Commerce, Flora Area Chamber of Commerce, Madison County Business League, Madison County Chamber of Commerce, Madison the City Chamber of Commerce, Madison County Economic Development Authority, Madison County Foundation and the Ridgeland Tourism Commission decided to team up and their first mission was to celebrate the arts and educate about the state's creative economy.
Jan Collins, executive director of the MCBL, said during the summer a presentation by the Mississippi Development Authority and Mississippi Arts Commission was the catalyst for the creative collaboration.
"We have great recognition regionally because of the arts," she said. "We decided to all get together to collaborate to drive the economy by working together as one group. This event was our first and it was to recognize the artisans in the community for their talents.
"We were very proud of the way it turned out," she continued. "We've got some extremely talented people in this community and it was great to showcase their talents."
Over 20 artisans who work with a variety of mediums were on-hand for the event. In addition, elected officials and business leaders filled the crowd for what was also an educational evening focused on the state's creative economy.
Allison Winstead, arts based community development director with the Mississippi Arts Commission, explained the importance of capitalizing on the creative economy of the region.
"There is a dollar amount connected to (creative spirit)," she said. "What we also know is the crossover to the private sector.
"We're no longer competing with just Oxford or Starkville or even Alabama or Louisiana," she continued. "We're competing with China or India."
She said there are two sides to the brain - the left is based on numbers and logic and the right is based on creativity and innovation.
"Our entrepreneurs of the 21st century definitely need both," she said.
Linda Bynum, executive director of the Ridgeland Chamber of Commerce, said the event was fantastic and they left achieving several goals.
"Not only did this event do all wonderful things for the art community and showcase our fabulous art community, it also brought (all 10 organizations) together," she said. "Also, (people) left knowing what the creative economy means to their community. I talked to a lot of the artisans there and I can tell you that everyone I talked to was very, very pleased at the opportunity to promote their work."
According to literature from the MDA and MAC, Mississippi's creative economy was responsible for approximately 63,000 jobs in 2011. Over the course of the past three years, the state's employment in creative economy areas has risen by nearly five percent while the nationwide average dropped two percent.
Planning for the event began in the fall and future events are already being discussed.
Collins thanked the sponsors for the event and those who contributed door prizes. Sponsors included Backyard Burgers, Brown Bottling Group, Christine's Back Porch, Colony Wine Market, Cool Water Catering, Cotton Exchange Liquor, Davidson's Catering, Fat Tuesday, Georgia Blue, Hannah's Package Store, Hayes Package Store, Hokkaido, Joe T's, Kroger, McAlister's Deli, Newk's Express Cafe, Pan Asia, Parker House, Pie Works, Sombra Mexican Kitchen, Strawberry Cafe, Sweet Designs, Traditions Fine Wine & Spirits and Viking Cooking School.
By MICHAEL SIMMONS
Madison County Journal