Forget the historical obsession with the lonely-artist trope, and let’s be honest: it’s often way, way more exciting, encouraging, and effective to share the creative process with others—despite how risky or awkward that might feel. Tulsa’s always been a city where a strong element of collaboration makes do-it-yourself (DIY) arts and entrepreneurship culture thrive. But there've been a lot of people and projects just out there on their own, too, working in isolation without the camaraderie or resource- and idea-sharing that can really boost creative endeavors. Enter the Tulsa Creative Engine, a homegrown nonprofit focused on making our city a welcoming, dynamic space where makers and doers can connect.
This ain’t some 1980s networking affair. TCE co-founders Chris Davis, Bianca Caampued and Tyrance Billingsley are young ground-level innovators in Tulsa’s creative sector, with experience in projects like Fire in Little Africa, the creative agency Pop House, and Black Tech Street. TCE held a tech/music/business conference last fall called the Spark Summit, featuring panel discussions and mixers on the frontier of “art-preneurship.” Their new initiative, Frequency, is a less formal monthly meetup, meant to connect people who might not know they need to be connected, and to help synthesize diverse ideas into multidimensional realities.
Whether you’re searching for a creative collaborator, or just want to hang around some artists and see what unfolds, this might just be your place. (As Frequency’s tagline puts it: “What a time to be a vibe.”) Root spoke with Davis about the intention behind the event and the mix of minds making it happen.
What gave you the sense that a regular meetup like this was needed in Tulsa's creative community?
CD: We really believe Tulsa is in the midst of a creative renaissance. We have an abundance of talented artists and musicians that have always been here, combined with new tech creatives, entrepreneurs and other boomerangs entering the ecosystem ready to make an impact. So from a talent perspective, we have all of the pieces to the puzzle but until now there hasn’t been a container for all of these folks to be in a space together to simply connect and find new friends and collaborators. In many ways Tulsa is made up of lots of micro-communities mostly operating in silos, and our intention is to break down those barriers so that real innovation can occur. We view arts, technology and entrepreneurship as one ecosystem that must rise up as one movement in order for the city to reach its full potential, so Frequency is a step towards that.
What do you think (or hope!) can emerge out of gatherings like this?
CD: We have an amazing DIY arts community which is a beautiful thing, but our artists also need more resources to take their creativity to the next level. Our organization, Tulsa Creative Engine, is a 501c3 non-profit focused on building creative infrastructure and providing artists with the tools they need to be successful entrepreneurs. Without a doubt, one of the most important tools creatives need is a strong community of other creatives to collaborate or just connect with. We also believe adding tech developers and other entrepreneurs to the mix is a recipe for innovation since we live in a world in which groundbreaking projects and companies often operate at the intersection of arts, business and tech. We hope that people attending Frequency can at minimum find a community of people on a similar journey, and to potentially find new people to work with to create amazing projects for Tulsa.
Are there specific goals or plans for Frequency, or is it a more organic thing?
CD: Right now our core intention is to create a space for people to connect, because sometimes you need to do little else than put the right people in a space together for the magic to happen. Tulsa Creative Engine is planning a variety of workshops and events throughout the year that will serve different purposes related to our mission of providing resources to Tulsa-based musicians and creatives. We are excited to partner with organizations like Clean Hands, Holberton, Art House, Cabin Boys Brewery and ASLUT on this first Frequency event and hopefully we will attract more partners aligned with our mission for future events. We really want to build a strong coalition of support for creatives in Tulsa so finding like-minded organizations is very important to us. We have some other ideas for ways Frequency can evolve, but right now we are excited to simply create the space and see what happens from there.
Tulsa Creative Engine
January 28, 5-8pm
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