Story Gatherings | Nashville, Tennessee

Cole NeSmith on Cultivating Art

Kellyn Robison
Written by Kellyn Robison

Cole NeSmith on Cultivating Art

Do you remember where you were when 9/11 happened? Or how you felt when you learned of the terrorist attack in Paris?  How about how you reacted to the Pulse Nightclub shooting?

I’m sure you were seeking for answers, and the right way to formulate words like I was.

What I love about this week’s STORY Podcast guest, was that he rallied a community of artists to tell a better story that lead to hope for the city of Orlando after the nightclub shooting.

Cole NeSmith is an artist, musician, actor, writer, producer, and the executive director of the Creative City Project, an annual arts event in Downtown Orlando featuring collaborations with Cirque du Soleil, Orlando Ballet, The CFCArts Orchestra, and over 1000 artists, performers, and musicians.

In June of 2016, he served as the Creative Director of “Beautiful Together : an artistic journey from mourning to hope,” a collective creative response to the Pulse Tragedy in Orlando.
First, we wanted to dive into the work that Cole does every year for Orlando with the Creative City Project.
“We play a role in cultivating art in the area. Our biggest event takes place on the streets of Orlando where we will have about 1,000 artists and 20,000 people. We created unexpected creative moments that people cannot see anywhere else.”
Sounds pretty cool, but most people go to Orlando for the theme parks and the creativity that is found in those spaces that transport you to other worlds. We were curious if that effected Cole’s work with this project and in the city.

“What I love about Orlando is that there is a ton of white space of the canvas. We’ve been known for our theme parks but we haven’t established ourselves despite that. We have the largest number of tourists visit our city in comparison to any other US city. We want to inspire 1% of tourists to buy tickets and support our arts.”

We love that he wants to influence the way that his city is viewed by the rest of the world and influence creatives in Orlando to stay there to do their best work.  One our favorite moments from the episode was when Cole said:

“The thing that prevents us from thriving creatively is our choice not to do so.”

What a challenge. Wherever you are today, you were meant to create there. Keep making art regardless of your geography. He had a lot more to say about the role that art can play in reaction to tragedy, and how community can really change the pulse of a city.

Listen to the full episode here.

Subscribe to the podcast here.

Kellyn Robison
Kellyn Robison

VP of Everything at Istoria Collective.