Creative Oklahoma's new ED Meloyde Blancett has big plans for the organization
When asked about taking the reins at Creative Oklahoma, Meloyde Blancett said she gave a resounding yes. She’s a fan of the organization’s work when it was led by founding CEO and her friend, Susan McCalmont.
“I’ve always been interested in a non-traditional way of thinking, sort of changing the status quo,” she said.
Creative Oklahoma was started in 2006 and has worked on several initiatives during its history, helping to advance innovation in education, culture, and business. Annually, the organization names the state’s Creativity Ambassadors, as well as oversees the state’s Creative Communities program.
Blancett was named executive director earlier this year. At the same time, she was representing House District 78 at the Oklahoma State Capitol. She said she uses creative thinking in her elected role frequently, where she asks a lot of questions, especially when given the response, “Well, this is how we’ve always done it.”
Blancett grew up in Oklahoma City and is a U.S. Grant High School and University of Oklahoma alumna. But after those years in the metro, she was done.
“I said, ‘I’m never coming back here,’” she said. “And I meant it. I moved to Tulsa. And I never came back. I never considered coming back.”
That’s not how she sees Oklahoma City anymore.
“This is not the same city. I’m blown away by the desire of this city to invest in itself, by the enthusiasm of the residents and what they’ve been able to create… it’s really an exciting place to be right now.”
She sees Creative Oklahoma helping to expand the city and state’s creative vibe, which she said is important to economic development.
“We have to start thinking about creative industries in a much broader and more robust way,” she said. “Creative industries can be entrepreneurs and creative thinkers. We at Creative Oklahoma want to redefine what we believe are creative industries. We want to be a support system and a multiplier and an economic development arm for the creative industries as a whole. Now no one’s really doing that. We want to focus on supporting…all those other industries that are really creative that make up that community that’s so important in giving us that three-dimensional creative class feel as a world-class city.”
Creative Oklahoma’s newest initiative to help foster creative individuals is the Oklahoma Entrepreneur Mentoring Program, which is based on and a sister program of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Venturing Mentoring Service Model. Through OKEMP, start-up company owners and senior business leaders working together to help the owner be more successful.
Programs like this help the organization expand its work in the economic development field, rather than being associated with the arts.
Blancett said it’s a common misconception that Creative Oklahoma is an the arts-based nonprofit.
“Creative Oklahoma is really creative thinking and innovative solutions,” she said. “That can manifest itself in education. It can manifest itself in business. And it can also manifest itself in culture. That can mean a variety of things. The one thing we do not want to do is overlap what others are doing. Our goal is not to duplicate effort, but rather look for opportunities in a creative space that gives rise to the creative solutions and creative thinking part.”
She said she’s already seeing that creativity in Oklahoma City, a place she swore where she’d never return.
“I’m continually blown away by so many microcosms of awesomeness,” she said.
Want to know more about Blancett and the work of Creative Oklahoma? Watch the video of her interview. And stay tuned for more information about the Oklahoma Entrepreneur Mentoring Program, with a story coming to VeloCity in August.