- Ilaria Arena
Are you a morning person? At least one day a month it could be worthy!
CreativeMornings is a breakfast lecture series which takes place one Friday a month from 8:30 am to 10am. Where? This happens basically all over the world, or at least in 172 cities. The creative cities who took part in this project are gradually increasing and the archive has grown to over 4,466 CreativeMornings talks. What happens during these session is simple: a café of the city, in accordance with the local headquarter of CM, offers a free breakfast and host a short talk about a common theme taken on in all the cities. The host who gives the speech can be a significant personality or a hometown hero who is leading a project or a creative revolution on its working fields. All the lectures are connected by a monthly global theme, which must be the same in every city and each one is chosen by a different host of CM, accompanied also by the illustration of the month, which is also drawn by a different illustrator every month.
CreativeMornings is not just a celebration of a city’s creative talent, but the creation of an environment in which the attendees –mainly freelancers, students, start uppers – can get to know the initiatives which are operating in their cities and have the chance to talk about their experience, what they have learned through it, as well as what they can teach and suggest to each other. The idea of CreativeMornings was developed by Tina Roth Eisenberg in 2008, when she decided to organise an accessible event for New York’s creative community which included starting the working day with an inspiring talk, while having breakfast. The idea was to bring together creative people and create a relaxed but stimulating atmosphere in which people could share their skills and stories and create useful contacts for their careers. The event is totally free of charge and everybody can attend it! Although you may be required to sign in, it is open to anyone and the early schedule permits workers to attend the event and afterwards start off their working day. If you need a valid excuse to ask for permission at your working place, the website of CreativeMornings offers a good list of persuasive motivations in the section Convince your boss!
 Tina Roth Eisenberg, Manifesto of CreativeMornings, https://creativemornings.com/about
Since 2014, Porto is one of the creative cities involved in CreativeMornings. The first founding member of Porto’s creative chapter was Gil Ribeiro. Around him, a small team started to grow, the photographer Filipe Brandão is always present to report everything with his camera, while the artist Joel Faria, silently sketches a wonderful drawing of the whole audience attending the talk.
In 2015 Gil moved away from Porto and quit his role as organizer of CM and Eduardo Morais took over as the new head organizer of CreativeMornings in Porto. ESPIGA became the official base of the event, hosting and offering fresh coffee and sweets to its attendees. Our team at Utopia 500 had the fortunate chance to attend some of the speeches at ESPIGA, and had the opportunity to talk directly with Eduardo Morais, who kindly accepted to tell us about his experience as volunteer at CreativeMornings
Amusingly, Eduardo does not claim to be a “morning person”, which would normally be expected by the organizer of an early morning event. The early schedule was somewhat of a hindrance for Gil and did not help to convince him to take up the role, but ultimately a skype call from New York by the original founder of CM convinced him to accept the position. Today, Eduardo has more than a year and a half of experience as the organiser of CreativeMornings/Porto and he explained to us some of the pro and cons about his role and the reality behind this work, which can both be stimulating since it can connect you to wonderful people, but also at times be stressful. Becoming one of the organizers of your own city requires great motivation and cold blood: Eduardo described to us how the time goes really fast when the day of the event gets closer and everything must be organized in a timely fashion while also being calculated and thought out with great care in advance.
One of the first challenges of his role was to find a venue which would be interested in hosting such an unusual event and to cover breakfast and other event costs. This was luckily resolved by the courtesy of Hugo, Înes and Catarina, the wonderful team of ESPIGA Bar-Art Gallery, which perfectly fits the nature of the event with its colourful and creative atmosphere. However, the main challenge for Eduardo, apart from the early alarm, was scheduling the event each month and finding a speaker whose topic is related to the global theme assigned. The themes give room to interpretation – he explained to us – and are all somehow “ambiguous” in a way that gives enough freedom to the speakers, while also keeping the talks in all the cities connected. The hardest part for him was to deal with guests, which is not always easy, since sometimes they can reply with great delay or vanish and re-appear when another guest has already been asked. Others, instead of refusing the invitation, ignore it and leave his request pending. In these cases, Eduardo puts them on a “black list”, to keep in mind to his team and future successor not to contact them again in the future. It is fundamental on the scheduled Friday that everything is ready since the event cannot be postponed to other days of the week. If necessary the event can be delayed to a “better” Friday if it could boost the number of attenders – which ultimately depends on other big events happening in the city on the same Friday.
After more than a year, Eduardo’s work as organiser in CreativeMornings has finished and in July he finalized his last chapter as main organiser. Before greeting and thanking him for his time, we asked him how he sees the future of this creative reality in Porto. Eduardo’s response was intriguing: he knows, and also wishes, that it will not grow any more. CreativeMornings connects cities across all over the world and even though the themes, days, and rules are all the same, each city shapes its own unique creative Morning. In big cities such as New York and Toronto, the events are becoming bigger and bigger and now instead taking place in small cafes as initially intended, the events are being held in big theaters and other large venues. The guests are often famous and well-known personalities and the number of large big-name sponsors are growing. As a matter of fact, this month the NY headquarters has announced its sponsorship with Adobe to upgrade to a professional website. However, each city continues to run independently, remaining faithful to its own society and rhythm of life. Although Porto might remain a small community made by students, freelancers and curious people (as well as some delayers), this community will not stop doing the amazing things that make Porto unique. As Eduardo said to us, “not everything has to grow big”.
The next CreativeMornings in Porto will be held in September at ESPIGA. To keep updated on the next talk, keep an eye on the CreativeMornings/Porto Facebook page or Join the Newsletter section on the Website!