Creative Power

Momentum summit coming to Tucson

Joe O'Connell, president of the Creative Machines art group, never had an easy system of sharing art ideas when he was in high school. But at the upcoming Momentum: Creative Cities Summit, he will speak about the innovations he helps guide in the art world.

The Southern Arizona Arts & Cultural Alliance has partnered with many creative leaders and educators to bring the communities of Oro Valley and Tucson an interactive summit. This idea came from a survey SAACA created to better understand the major needs of artists in the community.

"Some of the major things that continued to come out of there is artists needing more resources in terms of building an arts-based business and also opportunities to network and come together," Kate Marquez, executive director for SAACA, said.

UNESCO honored Tucson as a "City of Gastronomy" in 2015, recognizing Tucson as a city that demonstrates and encourages art and creativity, specifically for its unique food heritage, innovative food-related organizations, and creative food cultures.

The goal of the Creative Cities Summit is to bring together creative and arts-centered professionals to learn and grow in their fields and to provide the community with artistic and sustainable development.

"It's designed with several different professional development tracks for artists, creatives, and makers of all disciplines," Marquez said.

These development tracks are organized into different "rooms" at Momentum, with each room detailing a different professional skillset.

Room one focuses on professional development and capacity building. Some of the panel discussions include writing a bio for artists, creating and marketing an artist's brand, arts and social media, and diving into what an "ARTrepeneur" is.

Networking and advocacy are the themes for room two. A culinary sampling and chef showcase will have attendees trying different cuisines and discuss the results of the artist survey SAACA compiled from over 900 creatives in Arizona. Speakers for room two include Marquez among other SAACA members, Matt Rolland and Dana Hayes.

Arts and innovation take center stage in room three where the arts are paired with unlikely things such as military, health and business. These panels discuss how to incorporate art and artistry into everyday life and the workplace.

Room four will focus on creative place making, which will help artists build a sense of community through culture and art.

Two of the speakers that really stand out for Marquez at this summit are Lynn Davis, the executive director of Sonoran Glass Academy, and Josh Schachter, the founder and director of CommunityShare. Both panelists will speak on how to expand and make an impact in the youth's education and the community.

"This idea of collaboration at its core is that together we do more," Marquez said.

O'Connell will deliver his panel talk on creative placemaking. Creative Machines is a group of creative visual artists and engineers who do work for international and local clients from heir base in Tucson.

O'Connell will be speaking on the "Maker Movement" and how this movement propels the future of education, bringing together the future creative class of artists.

"I would like to connect to other Makers in Tucson, to encourage young makers who may be interested in turning their hobby into a business, and network to find other businesses with synergy," O'Connell said.

The Makers Movement is described by O'Connell as a Venn Diagram where there is overlap in four areas: community mentorship and sharing, a strong sense of artistry, a science base, and business.

"It's hard to believe but when I was in high school and college there was no maker movement, no easy way of sharing ideas, and the wider culture did not support making as a valid goal for highly motivated people interested in affecting the national culture," O'Connell said.

Momentum: Creative Cities Summit will be held on Tuesday April 23 at the JW Star Pass Resort & Spa, 3800 W. Starr Pass Blvd. All access passes are $35. For more information, visit

Briannon Wilfong is a University of Arizona journalism student and Tucson Weekly intern.