#PeopleofNEI: Matt, helping Fort Wayne's creatives thrive

Northeast Indiana is evolving. These are the people shaping its future. #PeopleofNEI

This week's feature: 

Matt grew up in Milwaukee, graduated from Grace College in Winona Lake in 2005, and found his way to Fort Wayne (after living in Columbus, Ohio for years) to accept the position of Executive Director of Artlink. He is incredibly proud of 212 by Artlink, where individual artists have access to space, creative tools, and one-on-one mentorship with established professionals. “The opportunity for me to come back to northeast Indiana was fascinating. I saw that Fort Wayne, in this moment, is what so many cities are right before it starts to explode. In this moment, the bigger opportunity is to be part of something that can develop into something more equitable for the whole instead of growth for the sake of growth. Anybody, regardless of their limitation, should have the same level of opportunity as someone without limitations. 212 at Artlink is all about giving artists that opportunity. It’s that simple. If we create an environment where artists can thrive, they will grow our regional economy. Because art is such a broad thing, you can find it in any successful community. It’s a way to express ourselves and bring people together. If you look deeper and call it ‘creativity’ instead of ‘art,’ you have what created a community. It gives form to the formless and allows us to combine ideas, that aren’t related, into something new. If a community embraces its creative sector, the next generation will become expressive and articulate and problem solvers and entrepreneurs. The most successful communities are the ones that embrace their creative sector because you can find it in manufacturing, health care, agriculture, and more. This is a region that is up for grabs when it comes to defining ourselves. Our best kept secret is that in the Midwest this is one of the last places to innovate on a city level. We could redefine what is possible here. We are not in anyone’s shadow. There’s something incredible about a city sitting in the middle of other major cities and it is not yet influenced by anyone. That is what I love about Fort Wayne.” #PeopleofNEI

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Read more articles by Stephen J. Bailey.

Stephen J. Bailey is a Fort Wayne native and the owner of PH Digital that was founded in 2006. Based out of the Anthony Wayne Building in downtown Fort Wayne, he specializes in web development, SEO development, social media management, and digital marketing campaigns with numerous companies in northeast Indiana. Stephen loves road trips, sushi, his pups, and spending time on our three rivers.
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