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Celebrate Creative Economy Week With Online Events and a Walking Art Gallery

Tom Giffey, photos by Joel Pearish

200 Main Art & Wine Gallery, Eau Claire.
200 Main Art & Wine Gallery, Eau Claire.

Eau Claire’s Creative Economy Week is requiring a little more creativity than usual this year, but the folks planning the week’s events in Eau Claire are up to the challenge.

Spanning May 9-16, Creative Economy Week is a collaboration between Arts Wisconsin and the League of Wisconsin Municipalities that was created “to shine a spotlight on community engagement through the arts, creative opportunities, and the arts and creativity as an investment for Wisconsin.” The arts are big business in the Badger State: According to figures from the U.S. Department of Commerce and the National Endowment for the Arts, the arts add $10.1 billion to Wisconsin’s economy annually. The arts also support 96,651 jobs in Wisconsin – more than the state’s legendary brewing industry!

As a result of the coronavirus pandemic, this year’s Creative Economy Week celebrations are largely virtual. Nonetheless, the organizers – who include representatives of the city’s Public Arts Council, the city’s Economic Development office, Downtown Eau Claire Inc., as well as local creatives – have arranged a full slate of interesting events.

“While social distancing has changed how we can all get together to celebrate art, the committee has planned a number of digital engagements, including a compilation of local performances on their YouTube channel, digital gallery tours, and online panel discussions,” organizers said in a statement. “The economic impacts from COVID-19 are felt significantly by our artists and creators and we hope this week is a time that the City of Eau Claire can come together to engage and support such an important part of our local economy and culture.”

To get a full handle on Creative Economy Week happenings,  visit this website or the week’s Facebook page. Here are a few of the week’s highlights:

All Week

Gallery Window Walk: Slip on some comfortable shoes and take a stroll around downtown Eau Claire, where works by 25 artists are on display in the windows of 18 businesses. The art is on loan from 200 Main, Artisan Forge Studios, Caradori Pottery, and Galaudet Gallery. (See this Facebook post for a helpful map.)

Monday, May 11

“FLOWt” – a live performance combining music and painting – will be broadcast from Artisan Forge Studios in Eau Claire (with social distancing in place). The performance will include Terry Meyer, Sue Orfield, and Patrick Phalen. Check it out live at 4pm Monday at www.facebook.com/ChippewaValleyFLOWt/.

Wednesday, May 13

An online panel discussion titled “Becoming a Full-Time Maker” hosted by CoLab and moderated by Becca Cooke of Red’s Mercantile, will be held at 7pm. Find details and register at bit.ly/cew-makers-panel.

Thursday, May 14

Ivy, a creative co-working space in downtown Eau Claire, will release a podcast episode featuring creatives from the Chippewa Valley. Visit their Facebook page for details when the episode drops.

Friday, May 15

ArtFly, an Eau Claire-based pop-up gallery, will be hosting a virtual reality art exhibit, “ArtFly: Multidimensional.” The free exhibit of works by Chippewa Valley artists will be viewable via smartphone, computer, or even virtual reality goggles. Visit ArtFly on Facebook for details.