Creative Mornings encourages an ecosystem for Lexington artsy types

Lexington's video submission for Creative Mornings

The video created for Lexington's application to the international Creative Mornings program highlights the city's "creators," from artists to writers to chefs to NoLi ambassador Griffin VanMeter with a stuffed chicken.
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The video created for Lexington's application to the international Creative Mornings program highlights the city's "creators," from artists to writers to chefs to NoLi ambassador Griffin VanMeter with a stuffed chicken.

Many people have been to a business-y community event, purported to promote networking and the lively exchange of ideas, and been in agony.

Suits and button-down shirts. Stilted speech-making. Opening joke, usually a groaner. Polite applause.

Creative Mornings isn’t like that.

“A creative is going to stick out like a sore thumb at a Commerce Lexington event,” said Whit Hiler of Team Cornett, one member of a team that is helping bring Creative Mornings program to Lexington.

The international program has chapters everywhere from Amsterdam to Tel Aviv, Cincinnati to Saint Petersburg, Fla. Each meeting centers around a theme such as “Fantasy.” One of the most famous Creative Mornings talks was presented by Mike Monteiro, an interactive design studio director in San Francisco, who tutors creatives on how to deal with excuses and tight budgets in order to get paid.

From Monteiro’s Twitter: “Never, ever let them call you a ‘creative.’ It’s a way to be disenfranchised. You are a designer. It’s not magic, it’s a trade.”

Obviously Lexington, home of widely dispersed creatives in industries ranging from art to music to cuisine, wanted in on Creative Mornings. (Louisville is already in. So is Cincinnati.)

Founded by Tina Roth Eisenberg, a Brooklyn designer who writes the Swissmiss blog and founded Tattly temporary tattos, Creative Mornings arose out of a need to frequently communicate with fellow creatives and gather inspiration from a pre-work talk.

Creative Mornings launched in 2008 with a series of lectures with coffee across New York. Soon cities were lining up to launch their own Creative Mornings. Local volunteers are charged with finding a space and lining up a donation of coffee and a light breakfast.

Celeste Lewis, director of the Downtown Arts Center, and Jamie Rodgers, who works for council member Amanda Mays Bledsoe, worked along with Team Cornett’s Whit Hiler and Jason Majewski and Ian Friley of Kong Productions, to apply. An application video was created, showcasing Lexington’s creativity, scenery, music, brews, Night Market and of course NoLi ambassador Griffin VanMeter speaking on chefs, musicians and other “makers” while holding a stuffed chicken.

Lewis is the designated “Lexington host” for creative mornings.

On the video, Kurt Gohde, an art professor at Transylvania University, called Lexington “a large enough city that’s there’s virtually everything that you would be interested to participate in creatively … and small enough that there are no barriers.”

Ryan Kelly, director of operations for MakeTime, describes Lexington as “the most creative city I’ve ever lived in.”

“I have never lived anywhere that has had such a concentrated influx of high-class original artists,” said Debraun Thomas, a radio host and interviewer and musician (his debut album is “All My Colors Are Blind”).

Lexington is joining in time to showcase the theme “Mystery” with the speaker Drura Parrish, chief executive officer of MakeTime, a Lexington-based online marketplace where people who want things made connect with people who have the machinery to make them.

“MakeTime is a really successful business in Lexington, and there’s a lot of discussion out there, saying, what do they do?” Hiler said, saying that the talk would explore “the mystery of the start-up scene in Lexington.”

The first meeting will be held at 21C Museum Hotel at 8:30 a.m. Jan. 20 with the goal of getting people in, giving them donuts, coffee, the chance to chat and an inspirational speech, and getting them out the door by 9:30 a.m. Organizers hope hundreds will attend.

The only expenses for the event are the videographer and photographer, who are paid, with occasional expenses for bringing in a speaker. The location and speaker for February has not yet been announced.

All of the talks will be uploaded to the Lexington site for Creative Mornings: “It will put our creators on a worldwide platform,” Hiler said.

Lexington contains numerous “awesome spaces,” Hiler said, that could host future “Creative Mornings,” including the Kentucky Theater, Lyric Theatre and Cultural Arts Center and Downtown Arts Center. Even the Night Market location on Bryan Avenue could be used for a morning event, if the street could be temporarily closed.

“The enthusiasm is high for this,” Lewis said. “And occasionally I run into people who are already super familiar with it.”

Cheryl Truman: 859-231-3202, @CherylTruman