Archive for June, 2010

IGNITE! Transforming Business With Creativity

Tuesday, June 22nd, 2010

Thanks to all of you who came out to IGNITE! For those of you who attended, you know what a spectacular event it was. Eliot Pfanstiehl kicked off the Speed Networking session, and after that, it was ON! As any of us who have attended a meeting or conference with people we haven’t yet met know, those first few moments after registration can be uncomfortable.  But Eliot made certain that we all got to know each other right quick, and by the time the announcement urging us to grab our lunches for the keynote sounded, the halls were abuzz and there was real excitement in the air. Sara Rosen from Congressman Van Hollen’s office remarked on the buzz as she made her way to the keynote and afterward, said she found it energizing, stimulating and informative!

Conference attendees during the speed networking session. Photo by Archer Sierra

Seth Kahan delivered a mesmerizing keynote and provided us practical and creative ways to interact with others in the workplace; ideas on how to start a rave for your business or product; creative problem solving tips and techniques and much, much more. Seth was fun and honest and I left knowing that I too, can get change right!

Seth Kahan with presenter Sam Horn during the lunch keynote. Photo by Archer Sierra

Frankly, I know many would agree that though the sessions were wonderful, they were simply too short! Nonetheless, Sam Horn crammed her session chock full of great ideas on how to use alliteration and alphabetizing techniques (to name a few) in ways I had never even considered for business, and people walked away with a new understanding of the tenets of improvisation and idea implementation steps from Bruce Nelson and Jimi Kinstle that had idea “light bulbs” igniting over many heads! Win Wenger gave us the Wind Tunnel concept to sharpen our ability rid ourselves of brain clutter and  open ourselves to the right idea for any business or personal conundrum. Several attendees noted that they were inspired to close the dichotomy between the creative, artistic self, and the professional business self as a result of the conference, and frankly, I was too!

Conference attendees in Sam Horn's session. Photo by Archer Sierra

I loved Joan Michelson’s idea that consensus can mean plain vanilla and her challenge to embrace conflict and see what we can do to use conflict to help us get to the next phase in our thinking. While embracing conflict may be counterintuitive for some, I’ve learned that something that emanates from a different perspective can stimulate creativity — that is, if you let it. Sometimes a crisis or conflict can force us to look at thinks in a new light, with a new mind. And, considering the competition, that is surely a good thing!

Michelle James helped participants explore how improvisational theatre can help leaders enhance leadership performance, and when crisis, conflict, challenges arise, that’s just what’s needed. This is where “thinking on our feet” comes in and it’s certainly helped in my career! While I tried to be everywhere at once, I simply couldn’t, so I missed Julie Lenzer Kirk’s session, but I hear it was fantastic and why wouldn’t it be? She’s a great speaker and writer, and businesses need to be able to evaluate and recognize the best of many good ideas and act on them – anybody got Cliff Notes from her session?

Playback Theatre during the Conference Finale. Photo by Archer Sierra

I’d be remiss if I didn’t tell you that Playback Theatre did a spectacular job of tying the whole thing together by playing back  the effect of the conference on participants and demonstrating how the creative actually ties in to business practice – simply fascinating. Frankly, by then I was spent. But our aerialists Ann Behrends and Nina Charity and Happenstance Theatre helped create just the atmosphere at the Schmoozefest conducive to chatting up my colleagues and hearing the plethora of great ideas they were taking home in the “goodie bag” of their minds!

Ann Behrends, our fabulous aerialist, during the SchmoozeFest. Photo by Archer Sierra

Happenstance Theatre during the SchmoozeFest. Photo by Archer Sierra

So there you have it. We KNOW creativity is THE business imperative and at IGNITE! we saw it. We felt it. We experienced it. We embraced it. We’re harnessing it. Away we go! How about you?

Maryland Traditions Gathering

Wednesday, June 16th, 2010

Photo by Shane Carpenter

As a longtime resident of Montgomery County I am aware of the wealth of cultural diversity present in the area. I have enjoyed the food of cultures I know little about, listened to live music performances from countries I have never been to, and marveled at art I don’t fully understand. But at this past Thursday’s gathering and showcase of the Maryland Traditions network I was given a rare opportunity to not just experience these cultures vicariously, but to interact with the practitioners directly.

Photo by Shane Carpenter

Photo by Shane Carpenter

From the heart of Montgomery County to the edges of the state, ambassadors of Maryland’s traditional and folk culture came to schmooze and amuse. Exchange abound and spirits high, attendees were treated to an opportunity to speak directly with tradition bearers in a congenial atmosphere over a multi-cultural feast, featuring traditional Maryland crabcakes and Pit Beef BBQ as well as additional delicacies offered by local producers and vendors, including fresh corn tortillas and tacos offered by Baltimore’s Tortillaria Sinaloa. Discussions continued over a delicious dessert of locally produced ice cream by Blooms Broom Dairy and included dialogues about specific artistic disciplines, regional identity and community, and local economy.

The evening culminated in a showcase of the “Maryland Masters;” exceptional tradition bearers performing alongside apprentices that are working to keep their traditions alive. From Western traditions such as gospel performer Burton DeBusk and jazz pianist Lafayette Gilchrist to world traditions such as the beautiful mother-daughter pairing of Hindustani performers Samia and Irum Ahmad and the lively and complex rhythms by Persian Sufi percussionist Ali Analouei and the SAMA ensemble, the event captured the diverse offerings of the area. This included a wonderful representation of Montgomery County’s vibrant Hispanic community, which featured the fiery Colombian vellenato accordion playing of Gustavo Nieto and his apprentice Edwin Lozana as well as the beautiful interlocking melodic patterns of Robert Giron and family’s marimba playing.

Samia Ahmad, Photo by Shane Carpenter

Though seemingly disparate, the evenings events were united by the deft hands of skilled practitioners, the refined sensibilities of seasoned cooks, and the curiosities of a public hungry for culture.

Photos taken by Shane Carpenter.

Hello Everyone!

Monday, June 14th, 2010

Hi all! My name is Sophia Stellabotte and I currently am on board at AHCMC! I am working towards my undergraduate degree in Mass Communications and I thought that the Arts and Humanities Council of Montgomery County would be a great place to intern this summer.

So far, I am truly enjoying my experience. The staff presented the IGNITE! Conference at the Universities at Shady Grove a couple of weeks ago.  I found that I began interning at the perfect time because I had the opportunity to experience something as wonderful as IGNITE! I was really impressed on the amount of work that was put into the conference but it surely paid off.

I have already begun my experience at AHCMC full force and I will continue to do so for the rest of the summer.  Who knows what next week will bring!

Maryland Traditions Gathering and Showcase 2010

Monday, June 7th, 2010

Each year the Maryland Traditions presents a gathering and showcase featuring  recipients of the masters and apprenticeship awards.  The day is a celebration of folk and traditional artists from throughout the state and is a unique opportunity to engage with the artists, community members and colleagues all in one place.  The traditions presented encompass art forms long rooted in Maryland communities from fox hunting, musical instrument and boat building to centuries old traditions  based in diverse cultural communities throughout the state.

As director of Montgomery Traditions I’m very excited as this year’s gathering features four Montgomery County based folk and traditional arts apprenticeship pairs.  These artists from Montgomery County represent a glimpse at the wealth and breadth of folk and traditional arts practiced in our community.  The Montgomery-based artists include Colombian vallenato accordion master Gustavo Nieto and apprentice Edwin Lozano, Hindustani Classical vocalist Samia Ahmad and apprentice Irum Ahmad, Persian sufi percussionist Ali Analouei and apprentice Giti Abrishami with the Sama Ensemble and Guatemalan marimba master Robert Giron and apprentice Beverly Giron of Marimba Linda Xelaju.

There is something for everyone with a passion for folk and traditional arts from material and occupational culture to culinary traditions for the foodies. Come honor and celebrate the recipients of the ALTA (Achievement in Living Traditions and Arts) Awards, presented annually to individuals and organizations who exemplify outstanding stewardship of Maryland’s traditions. The award is given in three categories: People, Place, and Tradition.

The event schedule includes:
3:00 pm – 7:00 pm
•    Edwin Remsberg Photo Exhibit- Masters and apprentices;
•    Maryland Masters of Material & Equestrian Arts – Live Demonstrations;
•    Economy & Community – Maryland’s Traditional Small Businesses;
•    Serving Up Traditions – Traditional Cooks Share Their Stories;
•    2010 ALTA (Achievement in Living Traditions and Arts) Awards Ceremony and;
•    Taste of Traditions – “The Meal”
7:30 pm
•    Maryland Masters Showcase

2010 Gathering and Showcase Maryland Masters
Date:      Thursday, June 10, 2010
Time:     Gathering  – 3:00 pm – 7:00 pm
Showcase – 7:30 pm
Venue:  Creative Alliance at the Patterson, 3134 Eastern Ave., Baltimore 21224

Tickets for the evening performance are gratis if you register for the daytime gathering. Otherwise they are $8 ($6 for Creative Alliance members). For tickets go to Creative Alliance, Maryland Traditions or call 410-276-1651 to order.

Maryland Traditions web site