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Happy First Birthday, CreativeGround 2.0!

Posted 10/23/2023

It’s been a big first year for CreativeGround 2.0! Public launch of the new site was a year-long roll out of new promo materials, promotional campaigns, webinars and trainings for users and partners, and many new site features such as an Application Programming Interface (API) that allows partners to integrate CreativeGround profiles into other websites.

Users have been engaged all along the way, updating and creating profiles, learning alongside us, sharing their feedback, and activating their creative communities by using CreativeGround as a tool for visibility, connection, and knowledge building. This continues to leverage CreativeGround as the only comprehensive data set of arts and culture entities, especially artists, in the region and nationwide. 

In case you’re just now joining us for the ride, welcome! Team CreativeGround reflects below about how we've all been re-learning and re-connecting and we reveal the top trends from the year. It's been an amazing group effort so we begin with a big THANK YOU.


“As I learn what it takes to engage with life as a solo artist, CreativeGround has been an invaluable way to explore how other artists connect with themselves, their work and the world. I also look forward to reaching out for collaboration through CreativeGround!” 

– Jennifer Elinora Grossi, Creator

Year one brought lots of learning opportunities, and priority one was a smooth and seamless transition to onboard all of our existing users to the new site. Last year, artists and leaders of arts organizations took advantage of webinars for Teaching Artists, Performing Artists, Visual Artists, Cultural Organizations, and Presenting Organizations to get tailor-made tips for using the site; and in the spring, 28 folks joined in for a 5-part profile workshop series specifically designed to walk you through the new profile editing experience, step by step.

We learned along the way as well – you gave us feedback on new disciplines, venue types, and activities/services and in response we added eight as new options on the site.

The learning opportunities continued with brand new resources to reference, like:  

  • Profile spotlights and Journeys on the homepage – examples of how different people and places use CreativeGround to welcome users and provide more opportunities for profiles to share themselves and their work in their own words 

  • The Profile Tips Page, to help users nurture their (new) profile score for maximum visibility  

  • “Dig In” pages with tips for different user groups – performing artists, creative businesses, cultural organizations, and more! 

Launch Year by the Numbers

In the last year, CreativeGround users have been active, connected, and excited to use the new site and its features! Since launch, there have been: 

  • 8 partners doing development and testing with the CreativeGround API on their own websites
  • 200+ users who contacted staff through email and our site contact form 
  • 213 profiles claimed 
  • 782 new profiles created
  • 1,313 new connections listed on profiles 
  • 1,333 profiles updated with fresh information
  • over 1,000 messages sent to profiles 
  • 2,000+ profiles newly coded with industry codes for use in Creative Economy research
  • over 49,000 site visitors from New England and beyond 

Image: Chelsea Prospers

Beyond all the buzz of site activity in the last year, the launch of CreativeGround came at a time that we were re-learning how to engage with our creative networks and how to re-connect.


“I am new to Creative Ground, but like the amount of information you can put on your profile. I am new to the area and have been using it to explore a new network, find creatives to work with and hopefully be connected with resources for creative opportunities and future endeavors!”

-- caitlin little, Multi-Modal Artist

We welcomed new and plentiful ways to connect and be connected since launch, including:  

  • A new quarterly Network Leader Workshop to help local, regional, and state leaders use CreativeGround to activate their creative communities. So far, leaders from organizations like Queerlective (NH), The New England Teaching Artist Collaborative (region-wide), the Cultural Alliance of Maine, and 23 others have attended in order to connect their communities with CreativeGround.

  • In-person connections through events like the New England Library Association Conference, Connecticut Library Association Conference, the New England Teaching Artist Collaborative's gathering, and NEFA’s annual IdeaSwap, where we were thrilled to work with folks one-on-one to polish their profiles 

  • Virtual seasonal workshops and 1:1 office hours where we provided direct technical support and got valuable feedback from profile owners.  

  • And, of course, through e-blasts to over 14,000 users each month keep you informed, as well as our newest way to keep you updated on CreativeGround happenings – this blog!  

  • Partners reconnected their networks to CreativeGround as well, through social media posts, website links, and email communication. 


“Dance in the Schools used CreativeGround as our website for several years. There’s something to be said about the gathering and mapping of who is here doing the work, and this platform has been a huge resource for doing just that.”

– Kate Bresee, Managing Director, Dance in the Schools

NEFA’s Creative Economy program’s vision for our region is a sustainable, inclusive, and connected New England creative economy that is valued by all New England communities. We believe that spotlighting the stories, relationships, and data of the creative people and places at work in New England activates our creative community with more resources. By leveraging this information transparently online, users from everywhere can access it without relying on NEFA as an authority. 

In the first year of CreativeGround 2.0, we were particularly focused on transitioning existing users and partners to the new site, integrating learnings from CreativeGround 1.0 into this new version to make it more user-friendly, and creating an infrastructure that would allow easier data sharing and updating. 

The top trends that were revealed from our re-learning and reconnecting around these goals for year one were fairly gratifying and only somewhat surprising: 

1. We cannot overestimate the benefit of having a living “list.”

We’re the only region with a real-time, living sensing mechanism. We know from NEFA’s long legacy of tracking and analyzing the economic impact of the creative sector, that creative people are undercounted in typical data sources. CreativeGround allows us to track very closely the categories that people select and how they describe their work in their own words. It can be challenging to analyze the data about a sector that is always shifting and creating new activities and disciplines, but it seems that the only way to begin to reflect creative work happening on the ground is through a platform that’s as dynamic as the field itself. Maintaining CreativeGround as a powerful research database by coding all 29,000+ profiles with national industry codes means our creative sector can be counted and visible in research across the region. 

Quick Fact: New Profiles by Type

Of the new profiles created during the public launch year, about two thirds were for Individual Artists/Creatives. 

Coming in second? New profiles for Performing Groups, followed by Arts Service Organizations and Film/Video Businesses (tied for third), Art Studios, and Design Agencies

Image: Berklee Indian Ensemble

2. Setting up an infrastructure to share creative sector data is worth the effort and short-term expense for the long-term benefit.  

We've heard from many state and local leaders who want to do an asset map or census of their creative community, and in our region, they can spend their energy updating the one we already have that also provides immediate benefit to those being counted. This crowdsourcing helps with the constant process of making the “list” accessible, relevant and more up to date. 

  • API Partnerships: We are grateful for and excited by initiative taken by community partners in MA, ME, CT, and NH who are working to utilize CreativeGround’s new Application Programming Interface (API) to provide more visibility on the regional, local, and state level for creatives on the site. Our first API partner to launch, ArtsHub of Western Mass, has been a huge win for western MA profiles, with profiles in the ArtsHub county region being almost twice as updated as other CreativeGround profiles! The organic interest in the API partnerships from small to large organizations has been even higher than we’d anticipated. And... the process of getting API partners up and running was technically much more challenging than expected. But we have many partners testing right now and more waiting in the wings to get started! 

  • Data Sharing: Other regions continue to want a site like CreativeGround and we’re keeping our Creative Economy research legacy alive in a more people-centered way by gathering stories to go with the numbers, and licensing the data to those who are tracking of the region within national analyses like Americans for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Arts. The upgrade was a strategic shift away from static reports toward an inclusive and representative data resource accessible to partners for their own integration and analyses – counting everyone, from the local ground up. 

  • Data cleaning: In essence, every user can be considered a data partner. The “Suggest an Edit” button on each profile encourages anyone with information to help clean the data and help their neighbors learn the latest. So far, 137 edits and counting have been crowdsourced from our community!  

3. Our first year affirmed the importance of state, regional, and local partnerships to distribute responsibility for cross-promotion 

Infinity Loop with colorful blocks showing the motion of activity by CreativeGround stakeholders

  • The number of potential audiences for CreativeGround can be overwhelming, and we've learned that partner activation is the most effective model to reach more of the regional creative community. Partners make the tool more valuable because they deeply engage in their area, helping with awareness and planting seeds for deeper engagement. Building relationships takes time, and it was strategic to shift our efforts to training local leaders as ambassadors of sorts. Some have jumped in and used the available materials to share the resource, but many need time to build their capacity and comfort with the many features of the site. 

  • Changing leadership in the field and fluctuations in our own team capacity has been challenging and a lot of long-term relationships have to be re-created, but that leaves room for a lot of new connections, which is exciting! 

Quick Fact: Geographic Trends from Year One 

  • The top five states where people are using CreativeGround are Massachusetts, New York, Connecticut, Maine, and Vermont.  
  • States are representing: the percent of New Hampshire and Rhode Island profiles listed on the site matches those states’ percent of the New England population – and Maine and Vermont profiles are showing up with more profiles listed relative to those states’ populations. 

Image: Beth Adoette

4. Technical upgrades do have an impact on user experience... and there’s always room for improvement 

  • For the first time, we had a measure of how robust overall CreativeGround profiles are – the new Profile Score. This clearly helped guide profile owners to where to make updates, and we’re proud of their diligent work filling in their profile sections. This shows in the 23% increase in the percent of profiles with a top score since public launch! 

  • By far, the new and improved Search was the feature that users spent the most time using while visiting the site, and most people are finding the site itself through an organic internet search (e.g Google). 

To all CreativeGround site users and partners: thank you so much for any way that you engaged with us and with CreativeGround in the past year, and please continue to be in touch. Here’s to more learning and connecting in the months to come!