Montgomery County Community College President Dr. Karen A. Stout has been appointed as Chair of Creative MontCo, a civic initiative that strives to shape the cultural and economic future of Montgomery County’s diverse communities.
A passionate supporter of the creative arts, Dr. Stout recognizes that art is a powerful catalyst for change – one that can be used in building communities and civic engagement. Under her leadership over the last decade, the College has placed a strategic focus on fostering the creative arts through its academic programing and through diverse cultural performances, lectures and exhibits enjoyed by more than 10,000 community residents annually. She has also overseen development of new workforce programs that prepare students for employment in the creative economy, also a focus of Creative MontCo.
Dr. Stout now brings her vision to Creative MontCo, where she will chair a diverse steering committee that represents the cultural, county government, business, education and philanthropic sectors in Montgomery County to better connect and leverage existing resources.
Supported in part by a major grant from the William Penn Foundation, Creative MontCo is based on the belief that culture and creativity are among a community’s most powerful assets. The initiative will generate even greater community benefit from these resources, through the groundwork and implementation of a comprehensive plan.
The origins of Creative MontCo trace to 2008, when a small group of interested leaders began exploring cultural needs in the county and the possibility of a comprehensive planning effort to leverage change. An Arts Summit at Montgomery County Community College in July 2010 demonstrated community interest, and broader community engagement began in October 2011 with an open Town Hall at the Ambler Theatre.
Through March 2012, the community will be engaged in a large-scale, ground-up process to solicit ideas and participation from a broad range of stakeholders. Activities will include interviews, discussion groups, informal community conversations, surveys and interactive participation through the website and social media. Creative MontCo’s leaders believe that this breadth and depth will not only sharpen their understanding of what is valuable and possible, but will also lay a foundation for shared implementation of the strategies arising from the planning effort.
For more information about Creative MontCo and to learn how to participate, visit www.creativemontco.org.