CreativeMornings is, according to its local host Eric Rivier Jimenez (he’s better known locally simply as Eric Rivier, the director of communications for a non-profit organization called Made to Flourish), “one of the largest gatherings of the creative community in the world.”
The concept of CreativeMornings—an early morning breakfast meeting of like-minded people (in this case, the creative community) with a featured speaker sounds vaguely familiar to anyone who has ever attended a Rotary Club or Sertoma meeting, although with a very different focus. The accent at CreativeMornings is on the creative life of a city or town and to “foster a community that sees and values creativity in all of life.”
Creativity covers a pretty swath of people here. The “creative community” isn’t limited to the obvious choices (artists, writers, graphic designers), but to any part of industry that has an interest in the “creative life.”
The organization was started in 2008 by New Yorker Tina Roth Eisenberg as an easy and inexpensive way to bring New York’s creative community together on a regular basis. The Kansas City chapter was created in 2015; Eric Rivier revived the chapter earlier this year when it began losing steam.
Rivier moved with his wife and four children from Louisville to Kansas City to take a position with Made to Flourish, a national religious-based network of pastors and churches.
“Through a friend,” Rivier says of CreativeMornings, “I was asked to take over the Kansas City chapter.”
INKC: What was the biggest challenge for you in bringing CreativeMornings back to life after moving to a city where you knew so few people?
Rivier: That was a challenge. I had been very connected to the creative community in Louisville, and suddenly I was living in a city where I knew almost nobody! I wanted to make connections but started out with just a skeleton team of volunteers compared to the active group of a 14-member team of volunteers today.”
When I started we were getting, maybe, 90 people at our breakfast meetings. Now we’re averaging about 200 people.
INKC: What kind of speakers are you getting to participate at the meetings?
Rivier: We’re getting many suggestions for speakers who cover a wide range of topics that have a connection to the creative community. This month we’re having a successful watercolor artist, Rob Schamburger. His worker is very nontraditional: He has done work for the WWE, for example.
INKC: What would be one word to effectively describe the Kansas City creative community?
Rivier: The first word that came to mind was “welcoming,” because this is one of the most welcoming creative communities I’ve ever seen. But I would also have to say hard working. I feel we’ve really been accepted with open arms here in Kansas City.”
INKC: What’s the demographic attracted to CreativeMornings?
Rivier: I’d say that the average age of people coming to our meetings is 35-40. I see lots of younger people. But our committed core group tends to trend a bit older. People are still discovering us.”