If you haven’t noticed by now, McKinney is bursting at the seams with talent and creativity. The square in Historic Downtown McKinney is quickly becoming a safe haven and creative outlet for anyone with the desire to express themselves in all sorts of facets.
In fact, our very own Entertainment Buzz diva Michele Bernard and Tom Michero, a successful musician in his own right, have recognized this growth of creative souls in the community and formed the McKinney Creative Community.
The McKinney Creative Community subscribes to the idea that writers, musicians, artists, photographers and other creative outlets can come together the second Tuesday of each month for a casual potluck. The potluck is designed for participants to share news, network, and possibly be inspired by the works of others.
I had the pleasure of attending this month's meeting of the McKinney Creative Community, and I was thoroughly impressed by the opportunities for networking and meeting new like-minded people. The gathering was casual, and the moment I walked in the door I was greeted with intrigue and classic southern hospitality. After sharing casual conversation over some delicious food provided by members, the more than 15 attendees sat in a circle and shared what was new and good in our lives. For networking purposes, we also shared what we did in the creative world. I was introduced to a writer for The Huffington Post, local artists, musicians, designers and much more. After the circle was finished, the party continued for members to share business cards, or just to continue getting to know a new friend.
Tom Michero, one of the founders of McKinney Creative Community and creator of www.lotusmusic.com, is a former native of Austin, Texas. While in Austin he belonged to a well-known monthly gathering of creative people. After moving to McKinney with his wife Silky, he longed for the same type of kinship among creative people he experienced in Austin. Tom and Silky eventually met Michele Bernard and formed what is now the McKinney Creative Community. Tom recalls how meeting Michele was the catalyst for the creation of a creative based community outreach.
“Michele started this little group were she wanted people to get together and talk at her studio in downtown McKinney," Tom said. "I went there and loved the idea. I wanted to do it bigger and make it an after-work thing, and Michele volunteered her house. She had a wonderful setup to do it. That was really important, because it got it going and within the year there were 100 people on our Facebook page.”
Co-founder Michele reflected on why the idea of gathering creative people within the community was such an important addition to McKinney.
“What we do is a solitary process," she said. "We don't have the advantage of, say, the 9-to-5 traditional jobs of being able to look across the room and talk to our colleagues and gather at the water cooler -- because we don't have a water cooler. It creates a reason for us to come out of our holes at least once a month and share our creations with the world. This gave us an opportunity to network and keeps us inspired as creative people in whatever our chosen creative market is.”
Tom also shared his opinion on why a monthly potluck, as opposed to an online meeting, is so important to the creative community.
"It inspires people and they get enthused about their own work," he said. "Most important thing is the face-to-face community and shake each other’s hands and hug. That doesn't necessarily happen online, there are so many distractions online that it is hard to be present."
During my interview with Michele, we discussed the sometimes lack of funding that the fine arts community, especially in schools, faces all over the country. Michele sees the McKinney Creative Community as progressively evolving to these ever increasing obstacles.
“The creative community is taking responsibility for themselves," Michele said, "and we are not sitting back and waiting for somebody to do the work for us. We are doing the work, and promoting one another and supporting one another. We are doing what we can to keep the fine arts in the spotlight as much as we can and to encourage people that this is a viable way to make a living. It is absolutely something that is necessary in the community, in many ways it is the heart of the community but definitely the spirit.”
Michele has high hopes for the future impact the creative community will have on the city of McKinney’s reputation.
“My hope is that the McKinney Creative Community would be an everyday mindset, that McKinney is a creative community," she said. "My personal dream would be for anybody in the United States, just like when we say the word Nashville music immediately comes to mind, I would love for no matter were you are in the United States and just say the word McKinney, and automatically know that McKinney is an arts haven … it's the place were anyone with a creative soul would want to be.”
Tom shares a similar goal.
“People move to Austin because of the community and network of people," he said. "If McKinney can have that, it can become a hotbed of creative thought.”
I strongly encourage anyone that is in the business of creativity to attend the next meeting, the second Tuesday of every month from 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. (consult the McKinney Creative Community's Facebook page for location), to network with like-minded individuals, or to simply draw inspiration from other immensely talented people.
McKinney is unique by nature. That's what our city slogan even says. Becoming part of the creative community contributes to that uniqueness.