Story and photos by Sarah Crookall
Sparks flew this week, but Canada Day fireworks didn’t go off alone—the creative kind ignited too. Oshawa’s Creative Social event on June 28 saw the Robert McLaughlin Gallery full of local talent, entrepreneurs and innovators— all prepared to connect and share a creative flare.
Visiting the municipalities of Durham, Oshawa marked the sixth destination on the new project’s circuit, which began in February. On the last Thursday of each month Creative Social events encourage conversations and business opportunities between local innovators.
“I think ultimately we’re trying to make Durham Region more sustainable. A lot of people live here but they migrate to the city. If we can create those same opportunities right here in your own backyard why not take advantage of it,” said Dana Jackson, event co-ordinator. Jackson has explored her own creative interests in food and writing with her blog. “Everyone can be creative. You can be a Librarian for 50 years and you’re probably an extremely creative person,” she said.
The night began with a musical performance from Chris Russo and Cassy Goulding, followed by refreshments, announcements from community members, a video screening, prizes, and co-mingling. Speakers included Durham’s Tourism Manager, Kerri King and City of Oshawa’s Downtown Development Officer, David Tuley. The new film collective, The Goldfish Pool, revealed their time-lapse video, OshawaCentric.
Among winning prizes was a $500 cheque awarded to resident, Margaret Rodgers, for her creative centre name submission of “The Core.” The new creative centre, announced by Tuley, will be a space in downtown Oshawa for innovating ideas, networking and business.
The evening’s sweet and savory treats were supplied by downtown Oshawa’s Mad Café, and Newcastle’s Archibald’s Estate Winery complimented guests with a beverage. In addition, participants were encouraged to get creative and sign The Dream Bench, outdoor seating that will be donated to Hearth Place Cancer Support Centre.
“It’s interesting when you take people from different sectors and connect them—that’s when you have a real change,” said Kerri King. “Because that’s when you start forming new connections and relations—and the business comes out of it.” Creative Social is part of Durham’s Art of Transition initiative, which aims to creatively boost the region’s economy.
“The events have introduced people to venues they’ve never been to. It encourages people to come from different municipalities to see who the local artists are, the innovators, new businesses—because we did partner with Spark as well,” said King.
Spark Centre is a not-for-profit organization that helps new businesses grow and succeed. Oshawa’s own SkopWorks game development company announced their partnership with Spark Centre as young entrepreneurs and UOIT graduates.
While Jackson personally knows the usefulness of online media and networking through her own entrepreneurial endeavors, she still affirms face time to Facebook.
“I’m pretty active on social media and I realized that no matter how many people you communicate with online, on Twitter, on Facebook—it’s not really until you meet people one on one that you actually have a connection with them,” she said. “You can have 20,000 Twitter followers but it’s not until you’re in a room of 20 people that anything is really going to come of it.”
Though Creative Social will simmer during the summer months of July and August, the next event will connect the Ajax and Pickering regions in September at the St. Francis Community Centre. The event will mark the launch of Culture Days, a three-day celebration of art and culture in the community.
“I want to put Durham on the map,” said Jackson, with a smile. “I want people to know we have a lot right here.”