Written By Christine Beamer
As a creative and a higher education professional, I am particularly excited about talking about creative placemaking and its role in talent attraction and retention during this year’s Summit. At the Michigan State University (MSU) College of Music we see this work as part of our mission—to help create a vibrant, dynamic arts scene for Greater Lansing residents through performances, arts education and arts engagement activities.
However, talent attraction and retention is a two-sided challenge. First, how can we attract and retain talent for the many for-profit, governmental and nonprofit organizations in this city through the arts? This is a problem that I see a lot of wonderful organizations tackle in Mid-Michigan, many who will be showcased at the Creative Placemaking Summit.
The second aspect of this issue is equally important, though: how can we attract and retain creative talent in our community? After all, if we want to have a vibrant cultural scene, we have to create sustainable opportunities for artists so they do not leave for larger (or more financially lucrative) arts economies. One part of this puzzle may be re-evaluating how we engage college students in the arts. Instead of seeing college student artists as transitional creatives, isolated from local communities and affiliated only with the university, what if we created partnerships that set up pipelines to help these emerging artists build ongoing relationships with local communities?
One such partnership I have had the privilege of working on is the College of Music Educational Engagement Residency. A partnership made possible with the support of the MSU Federal Credit Union, the East Lansing Public Schools and the College of Music’s career readiness program (Running Start), the goal of the Ed Engagement Residency is to bring the College of Music and local organizations together to train students in community engagement. Students spend a semester as paid fellows, learning about arts engagement, observing the elementary school students in their music classes, building a residency, and working with music teacher mentors. Through the experience, students enrich the local economy with their artistry, gain professional experience, and build ongoing ties to their community beyond the university.
When I think about creative placemaking in Lansing, my hope is for a future where my students graduate and they don’t seek to leave for New York, Chicago or Detroit—instead, they can’t wait to stay in Lansing, because they see sustainable ways to contribute their skills and talents to a vibrant arts ecosystem. That requires building pipelines—and as I go to the Summit, I look forward to meeting other professionals in the area who are interested in building these kinds of innovative partnerships, and engaging in divergent thinking around how we can address both sides of the creative placemaking and talent retention question.
Christine Beamer is Director of Career Services and Music Entrepreneurship at the College of Music. In her position at MSU, she has created and developed MSU’s Running Start music entrepreneurship program, including an annual arts entrepreneurship workshop series, a pitch competition for music students and new music entrepreneurship classes.
She also serves as faculty for the Freshman Seminar in music. Her focus on community engagement as a key component of arts entrepreneurship is reflected in her founding and directing the MSU Music in the Garden chamber series as well as the Musical Memories Program and Ed Engagement Residency Program, which provide opportunities for students to engage with the Greater Lansing Community through the arts.