Creative Washtenaw is the arts + creative industries authority in Washtenaw County. A regional agency, its mission is to advocate for and support the artists, creative workers, organizations, businesses, educators and municipalities engaged in Washtenaw County's arts + creative industries to ensure the greater Ann Arbor area remains a great place for ALL to create, live, work, learn, play and visit.
The Arts + Creative Industries Defined
The intrinsic and aesthetic values of art and creativity are determining factors of success for artists and creative workers. They have creative practices, own creative businesses, hold creative jobs in profit, nonprofit, educational and government entities and produce creative goods, services and programs for the residents and visitors to our cities, towns and villages. They are professionals, amateurs, students and industry experts leading the sector locally, nationally and internationally.
That includes leaning in to listen to and act on how its community defines the intrinsic and aesthetic qualities of art and creativity be it by the cultural expert, the credentialed scholar, the journeyed or self-taught master and/or the astute consumer of the form.
Creative Washtenaw serves Ann Arbor, Chelsea, Dexter, Manchester, Milan, Saline, Whitmore Lake and Ypsilanti plus the 21 townships in the county.
This familiar descriptor is often used to draw the analogy of a similar organization that supports, advocates and provides services for a specific sector. Creative Washtenaw is the very definition of a backbone organization: one that establishes and nurtures cross-sector partnerships to reach common goals and outcomes. Creative Washtenaw is intent, first and foremost, in listening to its members because they are the experts. They know what they need to prosper and know what causes their stagnation. The work of Creative Washtenaw is furthered through research, assessment and data that it and others conduct and report.
Creative Washtenaw reveres the intrinsic and aesthetic values of art + creativity while working diligently to demonstrate the impact and interconnection of the sector on quality of life and place of Washtenaw County. It relentlessly pushes the arts + creative industries agenda forward by persuading the community at large, its leaders and decision makers the value of investing in and setting policies to enable artists and creative workers to make a decent living, ensure that creative organizations and businesses are properly resourced and that students are assured equitable access to curriculum-based, sequential arts + creative education as a right to a well-rounded education enabling them to obtain the depth of skills desired by 21st century employers. Creative Washtenaw and its members know that building and sustaining a vibrant arts + creative sector is not accomplished by want or magic. It requires long-term commitment.
Creative Washtenaw has earned respect among community decision-makers resulting in being asked to take a "seat at the table" on community planning and initiatives (though sometimes still bringing our own chair.) Creative Washtenaw is an essential partner with the business, education, government, economic development, tourism, philanthropic, health and human services, public safety and other sectors demonstrating the interconnectivity of and integrating art + creativity into all aspects of community life. Broad-based engagement and the Washtenaw County Cultural Master Plan informs the work of Creative Washtenaw.