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Show and tell

Tulsa FMAC launches the Tulsa Creativity Database

I came to Tulsa a lot as a kid. I grew up 50 miles northeast in Chelsea, an old farm town whose population has been fluctuating between 1,000 and 2,000 since statehood. As a small-town family, we didn’t travel much, so Tulsa was the capital of my world. Large, loud, and packed with stuff I could buy, Tulsa was the go-to spot for shopping, movies, and hospitalizations.

One of the things I never connected to Tulsa, however, was art. You know, that monolithic a-word that everyone seems to agree exists, but no one can quite successfully define. My biggest experience of art in Tulsa growing up was seeing “Stomp!” at the PAC. One time, my family tried to go to Gilcrease but got lost, so we ate lunch in the back of the truck and drove home.

So it’s nice to see that, as the arts continue to evolve and push boundaries in the rest of the world, the city itself is keeping up. I’m slowly discovering that not only has there always been plenty of good Tulsa art happening under my nose, but also the city is developing new ways of showing it off.

Case in point: the Tulsa Creativity Database, an online directory of all the creative activity that’s stirring in Tulsa’s belly. The searchable platform is run by Tulsa’s Office of Film, Music, Arts & Culture (FMAC), a division of the Chamber of Commerce, and it just soft-launched last month.

“No other city has this kind of database,” FMAC’s Director Abby Kurin said. “We’re the first city to have a database that encompasses creativity.”

Many cities have film and music databases, she said, but the Tulsa Creativity Database will be the first to contain entries for creative endeavors beyond those two categories.

“Our mission is to promote Tulsa as the creative hub of not only Oklahoma, but of our entire region,” Kurin said.

She showed me an excel spreadsheet with every single category the database wants to cover, and it’s massive. There were at least 200 categories, as well as categories within categories. Folk, Christian, funk, easy listening. Ten different kinds of rock.

The database is live now, so artists, musicians, and creatives of all types can register for free and get their name out there.

Kurin’s worked with countless musicians and gotten over 40 of them to South by Southwest, but even she says she doesn’t know fully know the depth and breadth of the Tulsa music scene.

“For me, I’m hopeful that these people that I’ve never heard of, who would probably blow me away, will be on this database. We want more genres, more people representing those genres. We have a lot of creativity here and this is a chance for it to all be seen in one place.”

“It helps us have an equal platform to stand on,” said Casii Stephan, singer-songwriter and keyboardist with The Midnight Sun. “I see it opening up doors for creatives that they might not have had before. It adds another avenue [to being discovered].”

Along with the creativity database, the project includes a film location database.

“I really can’t even put a number on how many locations we could get,” she said. “That’s what’s so exciting about it. The reality is that Tulsa is being developed. New hotels coming in, new buildings being built. If there’s a chance that we can draw more productions to Tulsa, that could result in more people becoming passionately attached and wanting to invest in it.”

“This is another example of Tulsa showing the rest of the world that we have something new and important to offer,” said Weston Horn, singer for Weston Horn & The Hush. “As most of the world knows, trying to coordinate or organize musicians or creatives in general is a lot like herding cats. I think this database is important because it gives interested parties a great overview of all these artists.”

At the end of the day, this is about showing off as much creativity as possible, Kurin said.

“Who’s out there? We’re going to be able to look at this list, see where the holes are, and recruit for them.”

Oftentimes, the barrier to art is just knowing that it’s there. Tulsa FMAC is working to bring a greater awareness to its many local iterations and practicioners.

Find out more at tulsafmac.com.

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