Have an idea to make GR and Michigan better? Pitch it during Connect the Dots 5×5 night -Rapid Growth Media
By Anya Zentmeyer, Development News Editor
Statewide organization for arts, culture, and creative and design industries Creative Many Michigan is partnering with 5×5 Night, the Grand Rapids-based innovation pitch competition, to host an experimental program that will award $5,000 to anyone in Michigan with an idea geared at bringing together the state’s network of cultures and cities.
Scheduled for Jan. 13 at Michigan House in Detroit, the pitch competition called Connect the Dots aims to find new, creative ways to make real, intentional connections between Michigan’s cities.
“The dots on the map aren’t just cities; they’re pockets of people with identities and cultures that are individually distinct, but together they create Michigan — a vibrant and exciting place to live and work,” says Joe Voss, director of strategic partnerships at Creative Many. “Michigan House shows off a landscape of creativity and interconnectedness in our state, and 5×5 Night has an impeccable record as an idea generator.”
Spearheaded in 2011 by the Pearl Street-based Start Garden to help create a critical mass of new ideas in Grand Rapids, 5×5 Night is now run by Emerge West Michigan but still functions by allowing five finalists, selected by popular vote online, to take the stage for five minutes to present a summary of their ideas. Five judges then decide which idea wins with grants given from a total prize pot of $5,000.
“[Start Garden is] a key supporter and sponsor of the Michigan House project, and they’ve been deeply involved with the planning and the execution of the next iteration we did during ArtPrize,” Voss says. “This really fit their wheelhouse with history of 5×5 Night and their relationship with emerge West Michigan, who is running 5×5 Night now.”
During Connect the Dots, Creative Many and Michigan House are hoping to hear ideas along the lines of new hospitality programs that span cities, soft-landings for businesses that want to make new connections in another city, or ideas for new statewide music, film, or art festivals.
However, Voss says those are just broad examples of what he expects will be much more interesting pitches at the Jan. 13 event.
“Those are intended to be catalyst ideas,” he says. “We’re not sure what’s going to emerge, and I think that’s kind of what the point is. These are some of the things that people have tried, even, and sometimes they work and sometimes they don’t, but we want to part of catalyzing new ideas, too.”