As I entered the New Year, I was reflecting on my creative and artistic plans for 2017. Creativity and Innovation resonated with me in each thought. Many people don’t realize that they are, in fact, CREATIVE! People may not think they are “innovators” but you cannot be innovative without first developing some ideas. Creativity has been the center of my life through motherhood, teaching, advocacy and personal art. It is a pleasure to be in the Quad Cities as it grows in innovative ideas and we have our local “Creatives” to thank.

In reflection, I’ve been repeatedly asked through my teaching years, “WHAT exactly is creativity and how IS it different than being artistic?”. I believe that it is imperative to define creativity as it means a lot of different things to different people. 1) Creativity is the capacity within individuals to develop ideas for the purpose of solving problems and exploiting opportunities. 2) Creativity is not specifically art, design or product. As children, we are born innately creative and is something we can all nurture and learn to use more effectively. It is an ability to develop ideas, solve problems, adapt, embrace and in order to capture opportunities.

I’ve also been asked numerous times, “What is Innovation and how are they related?”. It is simply that innovation is the APPLICATION of creativity to give rise to a new service, product, concept or providing something new and better for our world. When we have developed creative ideas, we put them into practice and innovation manifests. So if creativity is the source of innovation, we must use our creativity to develop a range of ideas and that could lead to potential solutions in order put our most promising ideas at the forefront and in practice. Every job requires creativity.

So how do we build a culture of creativity and innovators? As every house needs a foundation, so do we need to have an environment and culture of innovation with creativity, as it provides the ideas that lead to innovation. As a community, we need to be in partnership to 1) Nurturing the creative spirit, educating others to the values of the arts – one source of creative expression, holistic healing, creativity building 2) Increased funding for the arts at all grade school levels, accessibility for low income children and families to attend public art and creative events, 3) Provide Creativity Development services to employers and 4) Embrace the new and emerging artists, advocates, innovators, educators and creative spirits and show up, purchase, and share at their events, shows, workshops, receptions, etc. We need a culture that celebrates creativity.

In spite of past funding cuts and continued concerns of more proposed cuts on a national level, the Quad Cities CAN thrive and continue to serve, educate, inspire and foster creative placemaking. I look forward to sharing more about specific people, places and events that highlight our Creatives and Innovators.

Glorie Iaccarino is a Quad City native and Ambassador for the Arts. Her passion for creativity, advocacy and community is evident in the service she has provided over the last twenty five years in the QCA. Glorie has worked tirelessly for the cause and benefits of art and its integration with community building. Glorie has received local and international recognition for her life's work.