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CREATIVES UNITE: iMAGINE Alexandria Brings the Creative Commercial Class Together

Kirsten Obadal
By Kirsten Obadal
Posted on Sep 15,2009
Filed Under Entertainment , Local Style,

Photo by Kirsten Obadal/Local Kicks<br /> <br />Improv actor Shawn Westfall leads an exercise at a recent Imagine gathering. <br />
Photo by Kirsten Obadal/Local Kicks
Improv actor Shawn Westfall leads an exercise at a recent Imagine gathering.

Alexandria - Entertainment , Imagine singing a song, shouting nonsense words, or acting out a skit in front of total strangers.  Imagine making a total fool of yourself and enjoying every minute of it.  
Attendees at the iMAGINE blender held at the Lorien Hotel on Sept. 9 did all of the above, laughing all the way.  
iMAGINE Alexandria hosted a night of fundraising, networking, and improvisational acting for creative professionals in the D.C. metro region.  
The brainchild of Nancy Belmont, CEO of Belmont, Inc., iMAGINE Alexandria seeks to create a hub of creative professionals in the city of Alexandria--much as Silicon Valley is known for technology, or New York's Garment District is known for fashion.  
The event attracted approximately 75 creative professionals, such as chefs, designers, advertising professionals, journalists, strategic planners, and others.  Alexandria Mayor Bill Euille was in attendance, and briefly addressed the group sharing the city's support for the project.
Improvisational actor Shawn Westfall of the Source Theater in D.C. was on hand to get the creative juices flowing.  Westfall led the assembled crowd through a series of improvisational exercises that got the whole room moving talking, singing, and laughing.  

Photo by Kirsten Obadal/Local Kicks<br /> <br />Terry Perry and Greg Hudgins hobnob at a recent Imagine gathering.
Photo by Kirsten Obadal/Local Kicks
Terry Perry and Greg Hudgins hobnob at a recent Imagine

Currently, iMAGINE relied upon donations from supporters.  The donated funds will be used for iMAGINE to afford physical and semi-permanent space.  
"We recently applied for 501(c)3 status," said Belmont, who added that the group has been getting a good amount of donations to help them acquire a space in Old Town.  "We want Alexandria to be a national hub of creative professionals."
There are several committees, which are staffed by volunteers from the professional creative community.  These include the Operations Committee, which helps to define the organization's goals and procedures; the Large Committee, which is in charge of facilities, planning and communicating with city officials; the Events committee, in charge of raising awareness and funds; the Communications committee, which is charge of creating sending messages and keeping the community connected; and the "Lite" committee, in charge of interim space arrangements.  
Towards that end, iMAGINE board members and volunteers are searching for a 50,000-foot space in which creative professionals can connect, hold professional development events and showcase local talent.  
The iMAGINE concept includes a museum of the commercial creative professions, a creative conference room in which people can brainstorm and build their companies, rooms for workshops and professional development, and a retail lab for the development of new creative products.  
Also, the group plans to include incubation space where small startup companies can grow prior to finding their own spaces.  
"Alexandria is already home to 250 creative companies," observes Belmont, "we want to attract more, and help them grow.  We are hosting several events a year to raise awareness and funds for the project."  
Interested in learning more?  iMAGINE will be hosting an informal information session on Sept. 22 at 6:00 p.m..  Email for more information and to RSVP.

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