Catalyzing New Mexico’s Creative Economy — Vital Spaces & Creative Startups Partner to Host Innovation Challenge
The Vital Spaces Innovation Challenge kicks-off with a cohort of 18 outstanding brands and businesses
Vital Spaces and Creative Startups welcome a new cohort of startups into their first co-venture aimed at accelerating and strengthening New Mexico’s creative diversity, the Vital Spaces Innovation Challenge for creative entrepreneurs. The program kicked off the first week of May with 18 creative businesses in attendance, representing a diverse pool of creative practices and backgrounds. The six-week, hands-on entrepreneurship challenge guides these visionaries to move their businesses toward substantial growth, expand their customer base, and launch their brands to new heights.
Out of dozens of applications, the selected startups were chosen for their innovative and disruptive ideas, impact in their communities, and powerful potential. The cohort represents a spectrum of creative industries: CHURCH and Charcu”teri” specialize in food and culinary arts; Michele Tuohey, Oriana Lee, and Prismaterra represent fine art; SoHype and LadyInFlux are creative wellness, health, and life coaching startups; KaizenRhino Solutions International provides financial education consultancy; Broken Arrow Glass and Crossgrove Studio are expert craftsmen and makers creating exquisite housewares; IndigiBean, All Aboard Earth, and Hip-Hop University NM focus on creative and cultural education; The Kiva, The Mystic Bard, Xerb, Distortionary Visionaries, and Ditch the Box Studios center around media and entertainment.
The Vital Spaces Innovation Challenge was masterminded by Raashan Ahmad, Executive Director of Vital Spaces, and Alice Loy, CEO and Co-Founder of Creative Startups. Vital Spaces has an extensive track-record of championing Santa Fe’s creative community, supporting their mission to create affordable spaces for artists working in all media and fostering a collaborative community to support people, ideas, and art forms that are underrepresented in Santa Fe’s commercial art scene.
“We here at Vital Spaces are dedicated to increasing accessibility to the arts to underserved and underrepresented communities and are so excited to Partner with Creative Startups,” said Raashan. “It's so exciting to bring access to this kind of program to our community! There are so many people who are not offered this type of opportunity because the creative practice is not seen as ‘legitimate.’ Creative Startups see the value in all kinds of creativity, and we are excited to bridge our community to this amazing resource! So many of us have been told that our creative practice and passion is not practical. Creative Startups understands the value in all kinds of creativity and we are excited to partner with them to give our community access to turn their creativity into entrepreneurship!”
New Mexico has increasingly become an epicenter of creative industries. After Netflix invested $1 Billion more dollars into its Albuquerque based studios in 2020 (an initiative set into motion by the New Mexico Economic Development Department), New Mexico saw a boom across economic sectors. With increased automation and outsourcing globally leading to job shortages, all industries stand to benefit by catalyzing and recognizing the creative economic sector. An excellent example in New Mexico is the development of its immersive entertainment, exemplified by its world-wide sensations like Meow Wolf, Creative Startups alumnus and of whom Creative Startups was an early investor.
In a new mini-documentary produced by Creative Startups, An Immersive Tide Rises— How Creativity Drives Local and Global Economies, Alicia Keyes, Cabinet Secretary of the New Mexico EDD, expressed that “there is a sense of collaboration in New Mexico that is inspiring… I really feel that the creative economy is the perfect fit for New Mexico, and we’re seeing it more and more as the industry comes here and more and more as people move here or move back to New Mexico. Now they can make a living here.”
With over two decades of experience accelerating creators and creative businesses around the world, Creative Startups is proud to call New Mexico its home and aims to uplift the creators in the area. Its partnership with Vital Spaces is essential to this mission.
“Our conversations with Raashan while creating this program were inspiring. It's always a dream to find partners whose values align so perfectly with our mission. We both recognize the impact that generating resources for our creative community has,” said Alice. “Many creators and creatives don’t see their potential as business owners and wealth-generators for their communities and beyond. We at Creative Startups maintain that creative practices are not side hustles or hobbies but gateways towards a more liveable future. With Vital Spaces’ long history of creating opportunities and space for Santa Fe’s underserved artists, they are essential collaborators and educators for this Innovation Challenge.”
About Vital Spaces:
Vital Spaces aims to support BIPOC artists, a population whose work has historically been underrepresented in contemporary art spaces in Santa Fe, as well as artists of all backgrounds whose socioeconomic status makes it difficult to maintain an artistic practice here. Beyond this focus, they wish to be inclusive of artists of all ages, religious beliefs, sexual orientations, and countries of origin.
Their vision is a city in which people of all backgrounds have access to space for creating and showing their work. Vital Spaces operates on the principles of inclusion, equity, openness, and community engagement.
As much as they want to promote diverse individuals, Vital Spaces also wants to support diverse forms of artistic expression and thought including but not limited to performance, installation art, mixed media, the literary arts, and music. They hope to provide spaces where artists can push boundaries without having to focus on the marketability of their work.
By providing affordable space, Vital Spaces aims to provide a venue for artists who might not otherwise know one another to come together in community and collaboration. They work to share this collaborative energy with the broader Santa Fe public through discussions, workshops, performance, and interactive art projects.
About Creative Startups:
Creative Startups is an unmatched leader at providing creative visionaries with the guidance they need to launch and grow their creative companies, from shaping early ideas to scaling globally. Their network of 400+ alumni companies span the globe, raising $301 million USD in venture capital, creating almost 900 jobs, and generating $100 million in new revenues. Their accelerator faculty teach at Stanford, Harvard, ArtCenter, RISD, and their 120+ global mentors are founders, executives, and investors with leading creative companies like Cirque Du Soleil, Disney, Embodied Labs, and Meow Wolf. While most accelerator programs focus solely on technological innovation, Creative Startup’s programming is based on the unique needs of creative entrepreneurs.