Downtown Champaign welcomed a new neighbor to the area this month – the Institute 4 Creativity. Started by director Bill Longfellow, the I4C is a place for people to come and explore and develop their creative abilities. Sounds great, right? So how does it work?
Bill sat down with me recently to explain his understanding of creativity, the idea behind the Institute, and the vision he hopes to bring to the Champaign-Urbana area.
“To me, what people don’t understand is that everyone is creative. Culturally, we only see people that we think are ‘exceptions’—the artists, the musicians, the sculptors. Everyone else, everyone who considers themselves average and not creative, discounts the continuous creative effort they put forth to maintain their life, their relationships, try to secure a future that they’re creating. We function in the present, but our present is almost always dedicated toward obtaining a future.”
Longfellow has spent most of his life pursuing creativity—what it is, how it works, and how people use it.
“Each person’s creative power comes from four major drivers—your experiences, your knowledge, your skills, and your motivation,” Bill explained. “A person can always add to their experiences, their knowledge, and they can learn new skills, but the most important driver is your motivation.”
The Institute 4 Creativity, at 111 S. Walnut, is designed to be a place to facilitate these drivers. “You can come here and experience someone else’s creative expression through the artworks and things like that. Those kinds of activities—witnessing something or experiencing something or seeing something that someone else has made that in some way affects you, those are motivating.”
Through the Institute’s open exhibition and performance space and several studio spaces, individuals from the area can come and take part in classes, experience live music, and take in local artists’ work.
“We’re eager to have artists come here so they have a space to exhibit, we’d like to have some musicians come and arrange to perform here, we’d like to invite people to come here and use the studio space and time provided to manifest whatever they want to create,” said Longfellow, adding that people looking to teach or share their skills are absolutely welcome also.
“I understand that power inherent in collaboration—I don’t intend to be the source of the curriculum here. I have my areas of expertise. Creativity is one—I’m also proficient in the arts to where I can teach fine art making. I will probably teach a few classes, but these spaces are open for the community. Anyone who has knowledge to share or a skill to teach, they can come here and teach from this place. It’s a place to teach, learn, do, share, and experience.”
For more information on how to get involved with the Institute 4 Creativity, including contact information, available classes, studio space, and opportunities for exhibits or performances, visit the I4C Facebook page.