History of The Creativity Collective
Impacting the Community with Creativity
Multi-disciplinary artist, Christy Soto founded The Creativity Collective in 2008 to provide creative and cultural arts entertainment, inspiration, opportunities, education and resources for artists and art enthusiasts in her hometown of Klamath Falls, OR. She recruited the original board members: Diana Kellstrom, Mike Stier, Dan Benson and Nick Hill. The group took the name The Creativity Collective to represent an artistic workforce of progressive thinkers with a community focus. It incorporated as an Oregon non-profit in May of 2009 shortly after receiving a grant from the Klamath County Transient Room Tax Program for it's multi-media Veteran’s history project and tour, A Legacy of Bravery Memorial Tours. The van tour of historical military significance was listed in Southern Oregon Magazine's Best of Southern Oregon section.
The Creativity Collective's projects outgrew the homes and offices of its members within a year. Their flagship high school documentary, KU STORIES was gaining momentum. The Creativity Collective had just developed their website and was in the process of releasing their cultural arts magazine, The Artisan's Almanac, when they were approached to take over a large art loft on Main Street. They'd anticipated a home and a place to launch a community arts center.
The organization moved into the 6000 square foot upstairs building at 809 Main Street in Klamath Falls and dubbed it the Contemporary Arts Kitchen (CAK) in 2009. It was a place for artists of all ages to learn, create and exhibit art. CAK included dance classes, film projects, gallery shows, live music events and multi-media endeavors. The public was invited to be spectators and participants.
The building had no heat, was heavily graffitied and filthy. The Collective sought donations of paint and supplies and met weekly to have cleaning and painting parties. Hundreds of hours and an equal amount of money was invested to make CAK at 809 presentable. The group sought a business license and was denied. They would have to cease all live music shows at 809 Main, the sustaining source of their income. Over the next several months, more provisions were put on the operations at CAK. The licensing entities gave them until May 7th, 2010 to find a more suitable home.
CAK at 809 Main was uniquely designed to accommodate everything from to Zumba dance classes to discount practice space for bands. The Creativity Collective, the building’s owner and the licensing entities met to discuss a game-plan that would allow CAK's programming to stay at 809 Main Street. An internal fire-escape would need to be built to code. There would have to be upgrades to the electrical systems, doors and exits.
Coincidentally, the ground-floor address beneath CAK was coming available. The Collective had always wanted to add this floor for more visibility. They kept their classes, offices, and casting agency upstairs and moved their music, plays, film premiers and cafédownstairs in 2010. Building renovations presented themselves immediately and after a year and a half battle, they let CAK go.
Despite building issues, the Collective launched their art magazine, Artisan's Almanac in Winter of 2010. They received kudos for their teen-programming and for their low-cost art events. They produced an original play and hosted several events in the Snowflake Festival.
The Contemporary Arts Kitchen was, in essence, just another project of The Creativity Collective. It focused on bringing an inexpensive all-ages art center to downtown—a place that could distract youth from negative influences. It was as scrutinized as it was revered.
The Creativity Collective took their victories and lessons learned and focused their programming into partnering venues. The Collective joined forces with The Gems baseball team to have their most successful Haunted House to date. They moved their gallery shows and women's networking group into the Klamath County Library. The organization started a campaign to highlight downtown Klamath Falls as an art district with a multi-media art excursion called Artventure. The event received a large grant for promotion shortly thereafter. Their documentary highlighting the beloved historic high school, KU STORIES premiered in the summer of 2011 and The Creativity Collective started creating welcome basket gifts for new residents.
November 14th, 2011, The Creativity Collective was awarded tax exemption status from the IRS. The following year, the board voted unanimously to move Creativity Collective operations to New Orleans, LA–a move that would allow it to grow. In 2012, Melissa Campbell, a native of New Orleans and Ria McKnight, a recent transplant from Medford, OR joined the bi-coastal Board of Directors.
In 2013, the Creativity Collective organized its first New Orleans fundraiser, the Bridal Crawl to benefit Café Reconcile. Fifty participants congregated at Muriel's, Jackson Square to enjoy the wraparound balcony overlooking the St. Louis Cathedral before piling into one room for a world record attempt for The Largest Gathering of Brides. Participants wore traditional wedding dresses, tutus, shrimp boots and veils. Afterwards they set into pub-crawl motion through the French Quarter and Central Business District with cigar discounts, food specials, signature drinks and free mechanical bull rides. They awarded the classiest, craziest and most creative ensembles to participants.
A wave of new members breathed life into the Collective, joining us in our second year to plan the Bridal Crawl fundraiser that brought 200 people together for Covenant House. Becca Glass joined The Collective Board of Directors in 2014. That same year, The New Orleans Hash House Harriers Red Dress Run awarded The Creativity Collective a grant to launch Fauxmosa, craft mocktail menus to improve beverage options for non-drinkers and designated drivers in social settings. In 2015, The Creativity Collective expanded, adding 10 new members, a leprechaun pub crawl, Leprecrawl, a culturally significant book club, Nolalit, and a high school student life skills book and presentation, Gradeuxity. In 2016, The Creativity Collective added Corset Crawl to their fundraising pub crawl list and in 2018 transformed the event into CorsetCon. In 2017, Ron Brickeen joined our Board of Directors and in 2018 Katharine Wibell became the current Executive Director of the Collective.