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Grand Area Creative Alliance reviews past year, looks toward 2024

Grand Area Creative Alliance reviews past year, looks toward 2024

Grand Area Creative Alliance members Nicole Reynolds of Har-Ber Village, left, and Anna Mocha, GACA secretary, explore ideas for recognizing creative accomplishments in the community.

Members of the Grand Area Creative Alliance spent the evening of Thursday, January 25, reviewing the young organization’s accomplishments and setting priorities for its mission of nurturing a creative community. 

Twenty people met for a retreat at the home of Alliance president Judi Barber, who helped initiate the idea of the organization about three years ago. The first formal meeting was held on July 29, 2022.

Since that time, Barber said, “We have witnessed the difference between building an organization and just installing one. It takes time and commitment to build an effective community organization, but we’re already seeing positive outcomes.”

In her opening remarks, Barber noted several examples of the Alliance being sought out to facilitate creative new ideas in the Grand Lake communities. She pointed to the work with Grove Rotarian Joe Wilburn to support small non-profits as well as helping secure artists for the second annual “Monkey Island Christmas Card.”

In addition, GACA representatives have participated in planning sessions throughout the area, providing support and ideas for creative opportunities around Grand Lake. Examples include the Jana Jae musical events, Har-Ber Village activities, and outreach to south Grand Lake communities, such as visual arts in Langley.

Barber said the Alliance itself does not aim to hold many events, but rather to help promote those of area creators. Nevertheless, the organization has sponsored an Arts Festival in collaboration with the Grove Area Convention and Tourism Bureau; an annual “Gathering of Creators”; and monthly organization meetings and committee meetings.

At the retreat, Barber reviewed the goals for 2023 and reported on progress made. The first goal, establishing a centralized Alliance location to enhance visibility, has been met, she said. Debbie Chapman, owner of the Craft Boutique in downtown Grove, offered space and visibility in her store.

The second goal was to build a strong network of artists within the community.  Barber pointed to the development of a Resource Directory, which will include names of artists and businesses that could be helpful in creating an event.

The Alliance’s third goal in 2023 was to increase attendance and participation in community events and activities. To help reach that goal, GACA is creating a list of individuals interested in receiving information on area events. Flyers on coming attractions are now available three times a year, sent via email, social media and the web site.

Lastly, the Alliance aims to build a vibrant downtown with multiple activities, collaborating with such groups as the Grove Area Chamber of Commerce and the City of Grove Convention and Tourism Bureau. Leaders of those groups are active members of GACA.

Looking ahead, Barber challenged the retreat participants to identify the most important actions needed to advance creativity in communities around Grand Lake. Discussion started with small groups addressing possible enhancements in eight specific categories: Grove’s Arts Festival May 3; creative presentations at GACA monthly meetings; the annual Gathering of Creators; increasing Alliance membership; enhancing the group’s web site and Facebook presence; better name recognition; thanking and appreciation of area creators; and outreach beyond Grove. An unspecified “Other” category allowed for additional creative ideas, such as supporting mural installations in downtown Grove.

Next steps will be to further hone and prioritize plans for the coming year, with input from many individuals and businesses around Grand Lake.

At the retreat, Barber recognized the accomplishments of GACA charter member Suzanne Boles, who has received a 2023 Governor’s Arts Award in the category of community service. Boles is known for her work in creating the Grove Community Playmakers with 27 years of live theatre success. In addition, she has been involved in youth education in theatre, spearheading the Grove Springs Cultural District, and promoting under-served aspects of the arts, among many other leadership roles.

For more information on GACA, contact Judi Barber at creativealliance743@gmail.com or 918-791-5479, or visit the organization’s web site at www.gacreativealliance.org or its Facebook page at GA Creative Alliance.


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