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« Church and state | Main | Ague »

Jul 03, 2009


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Ian McDowell

My suspicion is that they have no idea.

The clip-on tie gag is a riff on Jackie Chan's penchant for beating up his opponents with their ties.

Fec the Terrible

They lay low for fear of being tasered.

sean coon

that film deserves an audience. for an ultra-low budget, you'll be hard press to find anything like it anywhere.

as for the "creative culture" downtown... i approached AG a while ago about the idea of them sponsoring a compilation CD that would showcase one songs from 12 to 15 local bands/musicians (we already have the recordings); something that could be provided to potential new, young residents for free... the response was that the designs for the welcome "package" were finished up til 2010. when i suggested that the sponsorship could be to press a 1,000 run of the CD and it could be provided separate to their package, the response was, well, flaccid.

i felt a protectionist vibe rather than a sincerely wanting to work with others to help spread the good word about our downtown arts community vibe.

i mean, it's their money, can't complain too much, but the interaction just seemed weak.

whatever. we'll keep doing shows. legs form as they do.

Ed Cone

A couple of years ago I stood up in a room full of Action Greensboro honchos and reps from the foundations that fund AG and gave a version of the rant above. Everyone seemed to take it seriously. The leaders of the creative culture committee -- smart, useful folks -- engaged in the conversation. I was invited to come speak with them further, to really bring the grassroots message home, and then....nothing.

I went to a similar meeting not long ago. Nobody mentioned creative culture or anything like it. The projects discussed were good ones, including schools, nanotech, and such, but it felt like the big push for creative culture had just been a consultant's flavor of the moment.

The good thing is that people are doing great stuff on their own, and finding each other. But it would be great if the people preaching economic development recognized what's happening here.


"i felt a protectionist vibe" -- Sean

No? Really?

Do your own thing, Sean. It might be nice to have the help of people who say they want to help, but they won't get excited until you bring them an American Idol fourth place finisher. You'll be happier, do better, go farther if you cut your own creative path and the response of AG is no measure of anything important.

Ed Cone

I don't think anyone is arguing for the genuinely creative folks working in GSO to do anything but blaze their own trails, Roch.

But when money is tight and support of all kinds is welcome, and the Powers That Be have made so much noise about supporting creativity, well, the disconnect is kind of frustrating.

James Marshall Owen

That is frustrating indeed, Ed. It's also a sign of something larger, which is a nationwide erosion of what creativity and culture are. Roch made a good point bringing up American Idol. People consume what they're fed, and Clear Channel and Fox have built in their own likeness the mediocrity that is the image of "American Arts", and surmounting that must happen from the bottom up. It's nice to hear people profess support for local creativity and art and music, but people must speak up for what those things really are, or else conglomeration will always determine it for us. That's at the local level as well as from the top down. In High Point, Fantasia Barrino's name is on signs at just about every entrance to town, and the city arts budget is cut every year.

Ed Cone

Sean's idea about a welcome CD is a great one. The cost would be low, and the payoff large.

But the people who said they wanted to promote our creative culture have a conventional welcome video, and, hey, that's enough.

sean coon

That's exactly the vibe I got from the conversation. As if we were doing something "cute" and not attempting to promote our own talented neighbor-artists.

We'll keep doing our thing. If anyone in town has creative ideas for helping us spread the word, financially or otherwise, I can stop on a dime to have that conversation.


The fact that we're even having to have this conversation shows there's a Very Big Problem.

Jeffrey Sykes

Sean: I would urge you to continue doing your own thing. Dot Matrix is beyond AG and I am sure you know how to press the CD's yourself and can get them distributed via web and social media.

There is a collection that some worldwide recording pros put together via the web:

It's an all gratis collab these guys from some songwriting boards I read put together.

Any of them would give you some directions.

sean coon

i'm w/ marshall on this; it's a cultural problem we're dealing with. most people are spoon fed big label, hollywood, glossy artists to the point that they can't recognize the talent in their own backyards. the hustle and push of the media marketing machines that they're plugged into is hard to compete with, let alone get people to turn off the tube and go out on the town for a few hours.

but at least the programmed channels are starting to breakdown to a point of either collapse or mediocrity, so the best approach is to view this time as an opportunity to use the tools at our disposal to get the good word out there.

a web search google is a (relatively) unbiased channel, so locally focused structured data and media have a shot at being found with explicit queries.

that said, i don't want DMP to replicate the MO of the past gatekeepers and shoot for eyes and ears of the aggregate masses who won't have an opportunity to catch and support these artists in their embryonic stage, let alone experience a live show.

the web will make the musicians, filmmakers and photogs' artifacts available on a global level through discovery, but how do we localize that concept, offline, in ways that builds strong relationships in our local community?

IMO, it takes courageous strategic partnership decisions based around openness and long-term return, not necessarily the short hit or bucks or brand awareness.

most top-down orgs don't operate with that DNA, no matter how many twitter accounts they open, so we'll work with opportunities as they arise.

Ed Cone

The disconnect Sean describes is real, and understandable to a certain extent.

What's odd is that we're talking about it happening with a well-publicized effort by a well-funded, well-intentioned group to promote GSO's creative culture -- a group that ignores significant creative aspects already underway in the city.

I'm not even sure there's a mechanism for dealing with creative endeavors that arise organically from the local scene. Sean got a meeting, but it sounds like that was all on his own initiative.

People are going to do their thing. That's part of being creative. But there is sometimes a role for a group like AG, and -- the reason we're having this conversation in the first place -- they proclaimed their interest in this topic.

I've given the example of the ConvergeSouth conference. Instigated and run by volunteers, it brought people from DC and Atlanta and across the Carolinas to A&T each year to talk about (as the founding motto had it) creativity on the web for all people.

We ran it successfully until it felt played out and we were burnt out on it, and then we shut it down. We were happy with what we'd done.

But -- what if institutional support had been there at some point, not just for funding but for planning, marketing, etc?

What if the ideas and energy of the grassroots creative folks had been combined with the muscle of AG?

Then GSO today might have an ongoing creative arts/new media festival, something like a regional version of SXSW -- an actual creative effort that drives economic development, just as the creative culture rap has it.

But we don't. Rather than having the downtown leadership adding to the mix, we had a mayor who laughed that he couldn't use a computer and declined all invitations to attend the event.

So we did our thing, and it worked, and after a while it was done.

Nobody owed us more than what we got -- but it felt strange to be living in a city that boasted of its support for creative capital and creative culture, and to be pretty much ignored when we were putting on a decent show right here in town.

And that's what I was thinking as I watched those really well-done trailers in the theater last week.

sean coon





I think AG must have a different, less inclusive definition of "creative".

Brian Clarey

Funny you should mention it...
Check out this week's YES! Weekly for an update on the creative class.


It's odd to hear crit of Action Greensboro and its perceived failure to support local creativity. When they try to build a park, AG is the bad guy. The greenway? Bad guy. Advocating for bonds? Bad guy once more. The creative culture initiative? Bad guys again. But when we have a personal project, even one that benefits the entire community, we seek AG's 'blessing.' Go figure. The problem may be that folks don't understand that AG doesn't sponsor anything. AG is a volunteer coordinating group. All the money for projects is raised and not budgeted; their own budget is surprisingly small.

Volunteers work on most projects (raise the money, find the donors, lead the meetings, etc.). Maybe it should be described as AG's "embracing" of projects that feel like "sponsorship" but they're entirely different (mostly about money). Perhaps if someone has a creative endeavor, they should join AG, go to the meetings, and become a volunteer to push for their genre of creativity and make the group aware of their particular interest. Doesn't guarantee anything, though.

I'd have settled for influence and admin project support from AG or any other established group in Greensboro for CS - but didn't get any. (The CVB kept "forgetting" to put it on the calendar and that's just one example.) CS never became part of the bigger Greensboro. Probably my fault.

As far as ConvergeSouth goes, I met with AG about it and found little interest beyond helping to advertise it. But I found significant Foundation support to carry out the free conference. And to be blunt, Greensboro didn't shut down ConvergeSouth nor did any committee. I did. It was time. (For its last two years and a good deal of the first two, I did almost all of the year-long planning, organizing, recruiting, speaker-arranging and paying-until-reimbursed and raised all the money, so I have a little to say about it. And no, Ed, I'm not diminishing your role on one of the foundation boards that granted money to CS or your rolodex; I am not diminishing the HUGE job during CS1 done by Jay and Ben; I'm not anything but grateful for Janet's 3-year long food coordination. I'm talking about the year-long admin, fundraising, and organizing stuff. There are at least a dozen others I should name.)

I tried to get AG to "embrace" ConvergeSouth and it just wasn't going to happen (so if you think I'm connected, think again.) I think it's this city's shame never to have stepped up, offered, sponsored, or officially supported ConvergeSouth. I think the city is still missing the boat on many worthy citizen-led projects. And I don't blame AG; it's the traditional econ dev mindset of multiple organizations that don't have their ears or eyes close enough to the community where stuff is happening.

Ed Cone

Blame is not the game here. It's more about what happens next.

AG made a pretty big deal out of the creative culture thing. So did other cities back when it was the buzzword de jour.

The thing is GSO really does have some funk, and there are opportunities to support its creative culture, and to do it in ways that make sense to economic developers.

Greensboro is lucky to have AG. Their motto should be "no good deed goes unpunished," if not "the lead dog gets bit in the ass." If all they did in this case was to briefly market a potentially valuable idea, that's fine.

So who does something useful next?

sean coon

sue, in your mind, what's the difference between a "personal project" and a "creative culture initiative?" the buzzwords are making my head spin.

also, i'd love to hear where you think DMP or monkeywhale lands along those lines.


You might contact Piedmont Triad Partnership...I think they are working with the colleges/universities on developing something around a creative culture initiative...


jules pegram is an example of what happens when you get creative in GSO. let that be a lesson to anyone who would ply their product here without a subsidy. GSO-the only city that will keep on killing its stillborn brainchild.


In my mind, the creative culture, will bubble up, not trickle down. In this process many things will rise, fall, stumble, splinter and the survivors will keeping pushing forward without worrying about authenticity or acknowledgement from the City's "leadership." This support or acknowledgement from above seems to be very prominent in its own culture and what I haven't seen elsewhere. That being said, I keep thinking that the City giving $10,000 to a group like dotmatrix, monkeywhale, elsewhere, or some other creative confab would go a lot farther than it would in giving it to Grassroots for Fun Fourth.

Jerry Bledsoe


You won't hear anything from this crowd about what happened to Jules Pegram, although the entire community should be outraged about it.

They're perfectly willing to stand silent while creativity is denied and crushed by the powers that be, so long as those powers are people with whom they support and agree.

Ed Cone

GO, bubbling up is precisely the model represented by dotmatrix, Monkeywhale, CS, etc. The idea is not to manufacture some top-down structure. $10K to Fun Fourth strikes me as a bargain, fwiw.

Beez, thanks for reminding me of the Pegram story, well-told here.

Jerry, not sure where that little surge of hostility came from, but I'm pretty sure it's misdirected. I can't imagine that many people would support the school administrators in the case as Clark describes it. The story may seem a bit off-topic in this thread, but maybe it's relevant to the idea that bureaucracy and creativity don't mix well.


Ed - I recognize that the bubble up approach is what is occurring, but I was perplexed by the connection between getting AG buy in and authenticity or legitimacy. As you said AG can't do it all (they also decided not to support sustainability initiatives in their Phase 2 plan), and I think the proper response for DM and MW is to keep pushing forward like they are, in spite of this and that other groups should model what they are doing rather than seeking buy in from leadership.

And that 10k to Fun Fourth was on top of the 125k they already had to work on the fun fourth...hardly any of it worth it in my opinion...i'm sure some people enjoyed it but nothing about the programming attracted my attention.

Steve Harrison

"You won't hear anything from this crowd about what happened to Jules Pegram, although the entire community should be outraged about it.

They're perfectly willing to stand silent while creativity is denied and crushed by the powers that be, so long as those powers are people with whom they support and agree."

The removal of 20 seconds out of a 4 minute piece is creativity denied and crushed? Whether the administration was overreacting or not, the plain truth is: When students, even really good students, choose to buck the decisions of their administration and flat out refuse to compromise, wagons get circled. It's not an abuse of authority, it's the nature of authority.

Here's something that Pegram will learn pretty quickly at USC that some Rhinotimes writers have yet to learn or have forgotten: Some things don't survive the editing process, and the creator of the content doesn't always agree that their baby isn't the most beautiful thing you've ever seen.

As far as "this crowd" not being "outraged" by this, maybe it's because most of us don't believe there is some sort of sinister plot to undermine the White Male in Greensboro or the rest of the country. But if there actually is a plot, it's for sure the Rhino will discover it and come galloping to the rescue with thinly-veiled innuendo to incense its readers to the proper level of outrage.

Fec the Terrible

Take it easy on Bledsoe. Triple H lost the WWE Championship last night.

sean coon

i didn't know about that pegram story. that does suck. but to steve's point, it's part of the game when you're commissioned by someone else to do work for them. politics abound.

if this thread were about bottom-up projects working with top-down local orgs who attempted to stymie creativity or exert control on an obscene level, i could understand the relevance, but as it is...?

it ain't easy being a shill, is it jerry?

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