Cézanne J. Charles

Director of Creative Industries

Cézanne Charles, Director of Creative Industries, is responsible for co-leading the design and implementation of Creative Many’s creative industries research, reporting and supporting efforts to define public policy strategies, sector supports and investment priorities. In this role, Charles conducted the contextual review of comparable research initiatives in the US and internationally, engaging the leading research methodologies regarding the creative economy, and was actively involved in the release of Creative Many’s first Creative Industries report in January 2014. Charles directs Creative Many’s statewide programs providing the knowledge, networks and advocacy needed to help empower the practices of artists, designers and designer-makers within the state. Aimed at demonstrating the innovative capacities of individual artists and creative practitioners, programs include the Kresge Artist Fellows Professional Practice Opportunities program, the Creative Many Programs and Seminars for Artists, the Lawyers for the Creative Economy initiative and the Community Supported Art pilot project in Detroit. She is also a member of the Creative Economy Coalition of the National Creativity Network engaged in the development of a creative economy public policy agenda for the US and North America. She joined Creative Many in 2008.

From 2004 to 2007, Charles was Executive Director/CEO of New Media Scotland, the nation’s art and technology development organization, providing opportunities to artists and practitioners in the creative industries in production and commissioning funds, exhibition/performance, networking and dialogue and professional development. Based in the rural highlands of Scotland, partnership work – including with Distance Lab and MIT – focused on the power of emerging digital media and networking technologies to positively transform economies and lifestyles in rural and remote regions of the world. Charles led efforts to define a new mission and plan that positioned support for creatives working at the intersection of art, science and new technology. She gained valuable leadership experience with Culture Works, the Arts Council and United Arts Fund for the Greater Dayton, Ohio area from 2000 to 2003. She administered programs and services that included grant making, technical assistance workshops, conferences/forums and regional cultural planning initiatives for artists/creative practitioners and arts and cultural organizations, including National Endowment for the Arts funded Phase I and Phase II feasibility studies for a mixed-use arts center/creative incubator for downtown Dayton, Ohio, led and commissioned by Culture Works and conducted by Oregon Group Architects and Bruner/Cott & Associates, Inc.

Charles also co-directs rootoftwo, LLC, a hybrid design studio founded with John Marshall in 1998. rootoftwo, based in metro Detroit, makes hybrid design projects, social objects, experiences and works for the public realm – typically at the scale of devices, furniture or small buildings – to encourage interaction and engagement. Their experimental objects and experiences attempt to disrupt and expose existing systems of social behavior through humor, play, interaction and participation. rootoftwo has access to cutting-edge fabrication facilities for project prototyping and development. An integral part of their process, the ability to prototype and fabricate throughout the ideation, integration and implementation phases leads to fully resolved design, social objects, experiences and works in the public realm. They have presented work in Australia, Brazil, China, Denmark, Japan, Macedonia, the Netherlands, Spain, Sweden, the United Kingdom and the United States. Their projects create a condition where we can perceive ourselves; the here and now; and perhaps the future, differently.

Charles holds a Bachelor of Arts in Theatre Studies from The Ohio State University. She is on the programming committee for the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit and was Assistant Editor for the July 2009 MIT Press Special SIGGRAPH Edition of LEONARDO, Journal of the International Society for the Arts, Sciences and Technology. She is an active presenter and invited participant at statewide, regional, national and international forums on the creative industries, design and new technology including the 2013 Prima Civitas/Turkish Resource Center of North America Creative Economies Summit (Istanbul), the 2012 and 2011 Rust Belt to Artist Belt conferences and the 2008 Creative Cities Summit.