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The Cranberry Creativity Conference: The Art Of Collaboration

by Nicola Burnell

Like most exciting ideas, the seed for the Cranberry Creativity Conference was planted long before the details emerged.

I was having pizza with author Joshua Delaney and his wife Lynne when we started brainstorming about fun ways Josh could market his recently published novel, Pieces of Eight. Our imaginations ran wild as we tossed around all the possibilities of marketing his story about the legendary pirate Sam Bellamy and his treasure-laden ship the Wyhdah.

By the end of the night, we were discussing the limitless wealth of creative energy on the Cape, and all the people we know who have dedicated their lives to working in the Arts.

"Let's do a conference!" Josh suggested, and Lynne immediately agreed.

I wasn't so fast to leap aboard something that conjured up images of giant, orderly conference rooms and sounded like TONS of work to put together.

A few days later, however, I noticed the idea had begun to simmer in my mind as I thought of all the people I'd love to work with on such a venture. My years of teaching and publishing have connected me to many talented people who eat creativity for breakfast.

The one thing that unifies them all is their unwavering dedication to honoring their creative callings. Many of them work in isolation on their art, music and writing, so the thought of bringing some of them together in a single event was intriguing.

My mind then scanned for possible locations that would be interesting enough to really nurture the creative spirit and support the growing vision for the conference.

Last spring, the Town of Barnstable received the Commonwealth Award given by the Massachusetts Cultural Council in recognition of being a "Creative Community." After talking to Melissa Hersh, Arts and Culture Coordinator for the Town of Barnstable, I was given the green light to plan the first annual Cranberry Creativity Conference at the HyArts Cultural District campus, which includes the Guyer Barn Barn and Aselton Park in Hyannis.

 The Guyer Barn, 250 South Street, Hyannis
The Guyer Barn, 250 South Street, Hyannis

Nestled in the heart of a growing creative community, the Guyer Barn has been home to many artists and holds an inspiring atmosphere for beginners and professionals alike.

Having taught creativity development programs there, including Discovering The Artist's Way, I know first-hand how perfect the location is for classes in art, writing and music.

The neighboring 50 Pearl Street Gallery Artrio and Bass River Pottery studios, along with Sarah Holl's ARTSpace added to the appeal of the HyArts campus, where conference participants can tour the galleries and meet local artists.

I wanted to collaborate with ALL the creative people I know, but decided it was best to start small this year. Artists Jackie Reeves and Jennifer Stratton, writer Constance Wilkinson and musician Eli Woods all signed up to teach classes on the final weekend of September. Click here to read their class descriptions.

The conference opens on Friday 27, at 6pm, with classes throughout the day on Saturday. The events end on Sunday 29 at 3pm, following a closing Celebration of the Arts, where participants can showcase the work they produced over the weekend.

As classes aren't scheduled ALL day on Saturday, I wanted to find fun ways to educate and entertain students during their free time. Collaborating with local vendors to open their doors to participants was much easier than I expected.

In addition to being an author, Josh Delaney is a history buff who LOVES to take people on local tours of historic areas. When I asked if he'd be my tour guide of the Kennedy Freedom Trail, he was all in. This free tour is a bonus opportunity for conference participants to explore the expansive HyArts Cultural District.

This 3-hour tour takes in a series of cultural locations and events, including live jazz on the outdoor stage at Aselton Park from 2-3pm, and a tour of the HyArts Shanties at Hyannis Harbor for anyone who'd like to meet the artists. The farthest stop along the tour is Jen Villa's The Little Beach Gallery, which features over 50 local artists.

Another stop along the tour is the Cape Cod Maritime Museum, just a few minutes' walk from the Guyer Barn. Chris Galazzi, director of the museum, was so excited about collaborating with me on the conference that he offered to open up the museum's boat house overlooking Hyannis Harbor for whatever classes we'd like to teach there.

"This is exactly what I want to do more of," he enthused. "I want to bring anyone interested in exploring Barnstable's culture into the museum and show them how important this place is to the area."

On Sunday there's a break from classes for a free concert on the Hyannis Village Green between 11-12pm, sponsored by the Arts Foundation of Cape Cod. After the conference, students can wander over to the Love.Live.Local Festival at Aselton Park, where local vendors offer music, food, art and other Cape Cod products.

This wasn't the hotel nightmare I'd envisioned after all. It is a collaborative event that reaches into the very heart of creativity and connects artists, writers and musicians to our vibrant local community.

If you missed this conference, don't panic – we'll be doing it again next year!

Photograph courtesy of Maureen Grandmont

Cranberry Creativity Conference

Art. Writing. Music.
Experience the Process.

Space is limited.

For full program details Click HERE

Nicola Burnell

Nicola Burnell is the Publisher, Editor and a contributing writer for this magazine. In addition to writing her own novels, she teaches a series of Writing, Creativity Development and Personal Growth Classes.

She also works as a freelance editor and a Booktrope Publishing Book Manager.

Nicola is a member in Letters of the National League of American Pen Women and is Historian of the Cape Cod Branch. She strives to support the Arts on Cape Cod and collaborates with several cultural organizations in her community.

Nicola facilitates a variety of fun and inspiring CWO Events and launched the first annual Cranberry Creativity Conference September 27-29, 2013. This conference brings artists, writers and musicians together in a series of classes and workshops that culminates in a closing afternoon festival of the work produced in each class.

Nicola lives in Harwich with her two sons and several pets.

To contact Nicola email

You can also follow her on Twitter and read her blog:
"Nic's Novel Project"