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Valuing the 21st Century Creative Economy

Panel Session - Creative Entrepreneurs: Building the New New

Creative Entrepreneurs organize and manage creative enterprises, usually with considerable initiative and risk. How do individuals, organizations, and artistic disciplines re-define what’s next?


  • SherryDobbinSherry Dobbin, Director of Public Art, Times Square Alliance (Moderator)
    • Dobbin leads Times Square Arts, the Alliance’s public art program that works to bring high-quality and cutting-edge art to the Crossroads of the World. She will draw on her experience curating both installations and performance art in the U.S. and abroad to oversee Times Square’s compelling 2012 season of public art projects. Additionally, she seeks to create an artist-in-residence program in Times Square. Previously, as Director of The Watermill Center, the international arts center founded by Robert Wilson, Dobbin developed an international, cross-disciplinary artist-in-residence program, produced large site-specific events and developed a Humanities Program including lectures, screenings, education and tours of the collection.  She established partnerships for the work developed at Watermill with presenting venues in NYC and abroad, an online presence for the artist work, and partnerships with universities and cultural agencies. Prior to her tenure at Watermill, Dobbin was in the UK for ten years where she was a Project Director in arts-led regeneration across London and East of England.  She orchestrated collaborations between artists, cultural organizations, and the public and private sectors to establish and produce arts programming, permanent urban design, and cultural infrastructure.  She was invited to become a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts (UK) and awarded an Escalator Leadership award by the Arts Council England.
  • Omar AfraOmar Afra, Owner - Free Press Houston, Free Press Summer Fest, Day for Night, partner (UH PoliSci)
    • Omar Afra organized and launched Free Press Houston, a media source with a readership exceeding 100,000. He also founded major festivals Free Press Summer Festival as well as Day for Night. In 2012, a University of Houston study concluded the Free Press Summer Festival brings more than 14 million dollars into the local economy annually.
  • Dean GladdenDean Gladden, Managing Director, Alley Theatre, Houston
    • Dean Gladden is in his tenth season with the Alley Theatre where he is responsible for the administrative, financial, marketing, facilities and development aspects of the Theatre. His career in the performing arts spans over 36 years. Prior to joining the Alley, he was Managing Director at The Cleveland Play House for 19 years. During his career, he has overseen the production of over 300 plays, including more than 70 world and American premieres and established international exchanges with the Czech National Theatre in Prague, the Hungarian National Theatre in Miskolc, the Slovak National Theatre in Bratislava, and The New Experimental Theatre in Volgograd, Russia. Mr. Gladden holds a BA in Music from Miami University and a MA in Urban Arts Administration from Drexel University. He also graduated from the Harvard Business School Executive Education Program in Strategic Perspectives in Nonprofit Management. He currently serves as Treasurer   the Board of the Theater District is Chairman-elect of the Board for the Greater Houston Convention and Visitors Bureau.  He is an American Leadership Forum Fellow. He was past president of The Rotary Club of Cleveland and the Cleveland Rotary Foundation and is a currently on the Board of the Rotary Club of Houston. He has served on the Executive Committee of the League of Resident Theatres and was Vice President of the National Corporate Theatre Fund. Gladden has served on panels for the National Endowment for the Arts, Ohio Arts Council, Wisconsin Arts Council, Kentucky Arts Council and Texas Commission on the Arts. He has taught Arts Management classes at Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland State University, Bowling Green State University, University of Houston and University of Akron, where he was director of the graduate program in Arts Management. He has lectured nationally for the American Council for the Arts, the Association of Performing Arts Presenters, the National Association of State Legislators, Theatre Communications Group and the American Dance Festival. He has presented at the Santiago, Chile a Mil Festival and also conducted Arts Management workshops in Budapest, Hungary, under the sponsorship of The United States Information Agency.

    • FionaMcGettiganFiona McGettigan, Associate Professor Graphic Design

    • McGettigan is a partner in CORE Design Studio. Her work and research interests reside in typography and language in form of environmental and exhibition narratives, interpretive graphics, public art and placemaking. Her studio focus is in branding, environmental and exhibition design, public art projects and commissions of print, and digital media design with a client base of cultural, educational, non-profit organizations and urban planning groups. Her design work and public art is visible in many of the regions larger cultural institutions, parks and urban spaces. She has received grants for public art and exhibition commissions from Houston Arts Alliance, The City of Houston, Metro, Houston First and the City of Laredo. Her work has been represented in Communication Arts, International Design Magazine, and Cite. McGettigan served on the board of the Texas Chapter of AIGA, and AIGA Houston.

  • Robert HodgeRobert Hodge, artist and musician, Houston
    • Robert Hodge is an interdisciplinary artist whose practice explores themes of memory and commemoration. Born in Houston, Texas and raised in the City’s Third Ward district, the artist studied visual at the Atlanta College of Art before returning to Houston.Hodge has exhibited his work in numerous national and international institutions.