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The Creative Economy Council's Art and Technology Initiative Committee held a convocation on Friday, May 2 at the Boston Foundation during the Boston Cyberarts Festival.

Numerous leaders from New England's high-tech corporations, art and technology educational and cultural non-profits as well as leading individual artists working in new media attended. In addition, a number of artists and business leaders who are not in new media came. Their 'outsider' input was very helpful to the discussion. The goal of the meeting was to define strategic actions to improve the regional climate for art and technology. Bill Nigreen of Facilitation for Social Change led the discussion.

A request was sent, along with the invitation to attend, for a list of strategic actions that would improve the regional climate for art and technology in New England. They could be existing programs that need support or new ideas. Ten people sent in thirty-two actions and before the meeting these were organized into common themes. Four themes emerged: Networking and Advocacy, Building Businesses in Art & Technology, Creating Access to Tools & Technology and Building Institutions. These themes and the actions comprising them became the basis for discussion.

The meeting started with an introduction to the ideas and history of the Creative Economy Council by Beate Becker from the Boston Redevelopment Authority. Then the group responded to the submitted list of themes and strategic actions by proposing others that belonged in the same categories and in addition, proposing one other theme that was felt to be missing; Art & Technology Youth Education.  This is a topic that a number of organizations are actively advancing and an entire convocation could be devoted to this. The original list of strategic actions is also online.

At this point, attendees broke off into four groups to discuss the original four themes. They were charged with coming up with no more than three "great big ideas" that would improve the art and technology climate and then a number of "practical ideas", which would either advance the big ideas or implement other aspects of the themes.

The fifth theme, Art & Technology Youth Education, was not discussed and the committee is asking specific groups, for instance, the Boston Cyberarts youth committee, to respond to and expand its strategic actions by email.

After the breakout sessions, the groups reconvened and reported to the others. The entire group had a chance to respond and add more focus to the presented ideas. In a number of cases, certain organizations explained how they were already implementing some of the suggested actions. Boston Cyberarts has already submitted an NEA grant to create an artist in residency program in various high technology companies. Jo-Anne Green of Turbulence.org explained how a non-profit art and technology consortium, ATBoston had recently formed to network and share resources. A couple of the actions were advanced when different groups agreed to work together toward their realization. Emanuel Lewin of Art Interactive and Celeste Wilson of The Greater Boston Arts and Business Council agreed to discuss realizing Lewin's ideas for a 'volunteer engineers for the arts program'. Bill Seaman of RISD and Noah Wardrip-Fruin from Brown University proposed helping to form an AT New England, a regional consortium. Finally individuals and organizations embraced some of these new ideas. George Fifield and Carmin Karasic from Boston Cyberarts agreed to lead the effort to start a regional on-line database of New Media in New England. Boston Cyberarts is starting by hosting this document.

These web pages are meant to be a living document. As actions are taken on the various themes and ideas that came out of the convocation, they will be added to this document. The energy and focus that was evidenced at this first meeting of the Creative Economy Council's Art and Technology Initiative reflects a New England-wide commitment to improve the regional climate for art and technology.

Special thanks for the convocation to Erin Gay, Bill Nigreen and the Boston Foundation. This report was compiled by George Fifield and Erin Gay.

CEC Technology Initiative Action Group
George Fifield, Boston Cyberarts, Inc., Boston MA (Chair)
Marina Hatsopoulos, Z Corporation, Burlington MA
Joyce Plotkin, Massachusetts Software Council, Boston MA
Diana Walczak, Kleiser-Walczak, North Adams, MA

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