By Denise DePaolo

Photos submitted

Stunning strides in creativity exist in seemingly unlikely places. For example, a small city in South Dakota surrounded by farmland and gravel roads and vast blue skies. Home to South Dakota State University and industry-leading manufacturers, Brookings has the constant influx of creative minds present in larger cities, but with the isolation essential for true invention to flourish. This is why organizers of the second annual Creativity Week (September 25-October 3) have begun referring to it as “The Creative Capital of the North.”


“It’s aspirational and, I think, a reflection of what we see here,” said Scott Meyer. “It’s a bit of a crossroads for creatives, because you have a city that’s built on innovative industry – which is one of the cores that makes Brookings unique. And then of course, we have the university that brings new talent every year. So what we want to do is combine these worlds of innovative industry with visual art that we have.”

Meyer is a Brookings native who, after years out of state, decided to return and contribute in a meaningful way to his hometown. The tech entrepreneur is a founder of digital marketing firm 9 Clouds, a Brookings City Council member, and a driving force behind Creativity Week.

“Creativity Week is the largest crowdsourced creativity festival in the country,” he explained. “Basically, that means we think cities across South Dakota and the country have creativity inside the city walls, but not a lot of people are encouraged to share that. So Creativity Week is an opportunity for people to say, ‘I want to host an event,’ and we market it all together as one big festival. And really, our goal here is participation as an attendee, but also a participant showing creativity – whether it’s art or lectures, music, architecture, industry – all across the board.”

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During Creativity Week, dozens of individual events take place – many of which already happen on a regular basis – but under the umbrella of the event, awareness is raised and attendance grows.

“After last year’s event, we heard people say, ‘I didn’t even know the library had a puppet show once a month,’” laughed co-organizer Amanda Quam, who works as international sales administration manager at Dakotronics. “Even though the library does the best job they can to get the word out.”

As in its inaugural year, Creativity Week will kick off with a “Creativity Crawl” on September 26. Built on the pub crawl model, participants are given a map and set loose on an especially vibrant downtown Brookings.

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To read the full article, pick up the September issue of 605 Magazine or click here

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