Creatives get creative with online World Creativity and Innovation Week celebration

Imagine you’re throwing a party, a big one. In addition, for the first time you’re also responsible for encouraging and supporting parties like it all over the world at the same time. You even got your city to issue a proclamation! And then only weeks before the party, you find out the entire thing has to be moved online. That’s the challenge that Farmer School entrepreneurship students and faculty faced in putting together World Creativity and Innovation Week from April 15-21 this year, the first year the event has been housed at Miami University.

“The purpose of the week is to celebrate creativity and innovation, celebrate how and why it's important to us, why we think that it's important for the world to celebrate how we are creative,” senior marketing major Hunter Saturn explained.

“It’s an honor for the world to look to Miami when thinking about how our lives are affected and improved by creativity and innovation,” Dr. Jim Friedman said. “My idea when bringing the event to Miami was to take advantage of the innovative things going on at the Farmer School, and connect its students with the creativity of students and faculty across campus.”

At the Farmer School, the traditional celebration of the week for the past three years has been Creativity City, a collection of stations on the front lawn designed to help visitors explore their own creativity. But this year, the plan was to take the city beyond the lawn.

“Our plan was to go both campus- and Oxford-wide, to have hotspots of these organizations that are participating planted throughout Miami and throughout Oxford to interact with our whole student population, to celebrate the student organizations and the staff on campus,” Saturn explained. “Work with the businesses in the Oxford community to show how they are creative, and to bring them into our celebration. We planned to include the whole city of Oxford in our world.”

But all that planning happened before coronavirus swept the world, before the university closed the campus and moved to remote learning. With less than a month to go before the event, everything had changed. Everything, that is, except the organizers’ determination.

“We knew World Creativity and Innovation Week was absolutely going to happen. It was not going to change, it was going to happen. Things were going to move online,” junior marketing major Abby Porter said. “We have countries all over the world celebrating, so we can't let them down and we can't let things slide just because everything is now virtual.”

“The team took advantage of an opportunity to do something that they had never considered before, to show our creativity –inside- the box, inside of the constraints of coronavirus, show how our creativity and the innovation within it can prevail, and can turn into a success,” Saturn noted.

Creativity City became Creativity City News, an online platform designed to inspire visitors to ignite their inner creative fire through virtual activities, fun facts, and stories about creatives and their inspirations and successes. The World Creativity and Innovation Week website became an informational center for celebrations and resources around the world.

“We were energized, because our backs were against the wall and we did have to change plans completely. But we had a growth mindset in place and we really relied on the fantastic learnings from the Institute of Entrepreneurship, everything that our professors had taught us,” Saturn said. “We looked at the situation and said, ‘We're prepared for this. Yeah, this is it. This is what our professors, our experiences have prepared us for.’”

When you ask how the organizers will measure the success of the week, they’ll tell you that it already is a success. “I already feel like our team has succeeded in what we've done and how we've grown and how we failed and how we've learned from those failures. I think it's fuel. It's fuel to keep going,” Porter remarked. “It’s igniting your fire, igniting your creativity. You just want to keep going and make it better and see it succeed even better the next year. It’s a never-ending cycle of growth. And I think that that is success.”