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Pitcher’s mound

Good afternoon Brian, I just came across your article titled “The Big Pitch” online [Crashing the Gate; June 3, 2009; by Brian Clarey]. I came across it because I was part of the seminar here in Michigan yesterday. I just wanted to drop a quick line and say I was amazed by the quotes in your article from NC. They are word-for-word dead on to what we heard yesterday. All of the other actions are the same as well. Good stuff. Regards, Bryan Klapp Michigan

Blocked?

Dear Brian et al, What a timely cover story… indeed the Triad, not just Greensboro, is on the brink. The question is of what? I was one of the attendees when Richard Florida made his impressive spin through Greensboro and his ideas rang true for most everyone in the room. Now, six years later, it makes sense that we ask ourselves: Are we putting into action the ideas that Florida put forth or did we, as a commu- nity, clap and smile and then go right back to status quo? My guess is we are somewhere in between and quite frankly that is a far scarier place to be… these are not times of indecisiveness and fence sitting, but that is exactly what we have. My partner, Dr. Jon Epstein. and I have have been involved with various focus groups, committees and boards for the past year that have been tasked with giving the creative community a much-needed boost. After countless meetings, discussions and presentations it is obvious to us that the Triad is frozen in fear because for every two steps forward we take four backwards… frightened to push the limits of the status quo and challenge the sensibilities of those with very tightly wound purse strings who could make this area a destination but choose to stay in the comfort zone instead. In short we are a community that is complacent. We play it safe and don’t listen. Every year thousands of young urbanites graduate from some of the best universities in the East and dash away from the Triad in search of the very things Florida taught would keep a community thriving and growing, specifically, an original and diverse music scene. Case in point: We have two musical genres that have the area in a strangle hold

— Americana and blues. On the one hand, we can offer anyone who is a fan of both some of the best performers in those categories, but let’s be candid — two musical types does not a diverse community make. What they have in common is an overreliance and misplaced reverence on nostalgia and a revulsion to innovation. Florida was very specific: that a broad and diverse music scene that revolves around innovative and original music is the cornerstone of any successful creative community. Austin, Texas; Dayton, Ohio; and the Bay Area are examples. We have become the lesson not learned. I started FRESH Productions and Marketing soon after Florida’s visit because I had grown tired of living in an area that was so incredibly rich with arts, music, film, dance, theatre, etc and no one ever seemed to know what was going on, or cared enough to attend and partake. The goal was to build a firm that focused primarily on arts and entertainment clients, and help them market themselves to take their careers to the next level. We have produced two Tobacco Road Music Series events, Fashion Rox, Guitar Clinics, the Thundercution Tour, developed artists, produced marketing and PR for clients all over the US and in Europe without ever turning our eye away from the Triad. Now that we are producing the third Tobacco Road Music series (introducing national acts to the area) and facing the fact that once again that the majority of it will more than likely be self-funded, we have to ask ourselves: When you give so much to a community and have a track record of doing events that bolster the economy and demonstrate diversity, why is it so difficult to find support? One has to question why our own community has to be chased down to get something to happen and yet our European clients embrace possibilities with abandon. Club owners are difficult to reach, unwilling to explore new possibilities beyond their personal aesthetic or what they perceive as safe, and funnily enough embrace hesitation at any new idea and stay firmly planted in the safe, secure sandbox where the view never changes. Which is exactly what you would do if you want to encourage the exodus of the bright, young creatives that could be the seedlings of future growth of the Triad’s creative economy. In short, Richard Florida came. We listened. And then we ignored his advice and retreated backwards. The question remains: Is there anyone in the Triad bold enough to take the steps necessary to push the creative economy into the future? We are. Are You? Regards, Kim Thore and Dr. Jon Epstein Winston-Salem

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