Florida Creativity Conference will be held at the University of South Florida, Sarasota-Manatee and Florida Studio Theatre By Thomas Becnel Staff Writer, Sarasota Herald TribuneSpeakers and listeners interested in ideas and imagination will gather in Sarasota next weekend for a series of talks, workshops and improvisation programs that are part of the 15th annual Florida Creativity Conference, which focuses on education and the arts, business and personal growth.
Session titles include “Professional Play,” “Collaborative Leadership” and “Creating Purposeful Spontaneity.” Also “Meditative Mandalas,” “Polarity Thinking” and “Mining Your Treasures: Memoir Poetry.”
Hedria Lunken Saltzman, co-chairman of the conference, expects 100 to 150 people from across the country.
“There’s a whole creativity community,” Saltzman says. “We don’t pay anybody; it’s all volunteer. People want to be here. They want to be together. They want to present. They want to spread this to the world.”
Speakers and moderators this year will include Lee Kitchen, an advertising innovation manager at the Walt Disney Company, and Nate Jacobs, founder of the Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe in Sarasota. Also Kitty Heusner, the educator who founded the Creativity Conference in Sarasota.
On Friday and Saturday, daylong programs will take place at the University of South Florida, Sarasota-Bradenton. On Sunday, sessions will be at Florida Studio Theatre.
In recent years, FST actors and teachers have participated in the annual conference. Leading the way is Will Leura, director of improvisation.“He’s been wonderful,” Saltzman says. “Last year, he did our opening. This year, he’s doing an improv program.”
Sessions by Kitchen will include “Unleash Your Inner Creative Super Hero” and “Party Your Way to Great Ideas,” along with “From Fins to Wins — Turning Those Circling Sharks Into Your Biggest Advocates.”
Fans of the conference often focus on positive thinking, flexible approaches and innovative ideas. Also inspiration, interactive learning and nontraditional settings.
Saltzman joined the creativity community when she returned to college at the age of 47. She lived in Rochester and found her way into the Creative Studies program at Buffalo State.
“It changed my life,” she says. “I learned about being open to things and everything that goes along with creativity.”
Saltzman went on to write a book called “Square One at 51.” Ten years ago, she went to her first Florida Creativity Conference. Later, she became a presenter and co-chairman of the weekend event.
The annual conference is always timed for the end of the winter tourist season.
“Who wouldn’t want to visit Sarasota in March?” Saltzman asks. “We have people from Canada. We get a lot of people from the creative community in Buffalo.”