Unlocking the Creative Potential of McLennan County, TX

Living in multiple countries, Creative Waco founder Fiona Bond eventually found her way to Waco, a move that may have surprised her friends abroad, but as she puts it, both she and her family fell in love with the city and its potential. Bond established Creative Waco, a non-profit organization that serves as the “Local Art Agency” (art council or art commission) and whose mission is “to grow and support a thriving cultural and creative community in Waco and McLennan County.” The organization works to make wise decisions so that the entire community can be proud of the public art that enlivens and energizes our community spaces. Additionally, Creative Waco functions as a practical guide for anyone interested in commissioning, creating, funding or otherwise participating in public art and creating creative places in our community. Bond's experience in this field led to invitations to engage in conversations in favor of Waco's cultural and creative development.

Bond recently earned a master's degree in business administration (MBA) from Baylor University, which, along with running Creative Waco full time and managing family life with her husband Bruce Longenecker (professor of religion at Baylor) and two active teenage children, left no free time for much else. The exhibition became a deck of cards that is still being sold to support art programs in Waco. Bond also noted that Waco was a city that stood out to the National Endowment for the Arts for ensuring that artists and creatives continued to receive support in one way or another during the pandemic. Creative Waco is also devising practical ways for people to incorporate artistic and cultural development into other sectors. Soledad Bautista, director of professional development and outreach, said that another objective of Creative Waco is to use inclusion, equity and diversity to establish a more cohesive ecosystem in the city.

Creative Waco partners with the City of Waco, McLennan County, community partners and stakeholders to facilitate public art projects to promote the Waco Cultural Plan. A second exhibition of the work in Waco served as a catalyst for the gallery that became Cultivate 7Twelve on Austin Avenue, where the Creative Waco office is now located. Bond said his future aspirations for Creative Waco include strengthening arts and cultural organizations, obtaining support from diverse sources of income and being sustainable as he grows. With its mission to grow and support a thriving cultural and creative community in McLennan County, TX, Creative Waco is unlocking the creative potential of this area.