One word you can always use to describe Toledo is “Creative.” Creativity has breathed life into Toledo from its early days of earning the title as the Glass City, and continues to thrive with local theater, music, art and more.
It can be difficult to find your niche in the Toledo creative scene, or to network with other creatives and find new opportunities. However, one Facebook group is working to connect all individuals into one big group: Toledo Creatives.
Sparking an idea
Ellen Dziubek, a local creative, started the Facebook group back in 2019 after bonding with her photographer friend Jake Weber about the lonely lifestyle of freelancing.
“Despite the excitement and variety of ‘gig life,’ you don’t get the structure and familiarity of having coworkers,” Dziubek said.
Toledo Creatives was originally supposed to turn into a creative coworking space where they hoped to replicate that structure, but they didn’t want to act on the idea until they had talked to more members of the creative community.
The group had two initial meetings, where Dziubek and Weber invited every artist and creative they knew to gauge interest.
“We came out of those meetings with the conclusion that the community needed uniting,” Dziubek said. “A lot of us had followed each other’s work on social media but had never met in person. It was important that before renting out a space and charging people for membership, we foster that community.”
And then, COVID-19 shut everything down.
As a result of the no contact and quarantine, Dziubek created a Facebook group to add everyone who attended those meetings to provide them with updates and a way to keep in touch. Soon, Facebook posts turned into Zoom hangouts, which turned into social distance meetups in outdoor spaces and eventually became speakers and workshops. Everyone craved that connection with creatives – especially with COVID-19 driving a wedge.
Growing in numbers
Kristin Osinski, a local performer, joined Toledo Creatives for this exact reason: to find connection with others in the community who wanted to create together and find opportunities for growing personal skills.
“I had initially heard about the group through mutual friends on social media,” Osinski said. “While my performance skills are probably my strongest/most frequently used, I also enjoy photography, graphic design and writing.”
Osinski wanted to find a place where she could work on all these skills, and has since found countless artistic individuals and opportunities all over the area.
“Someone always has an answer to questions posted, a referral to a service they use to help them with their projects or people to recommend when opportunities for work come up,” Osinski said. “It’s an excellent and effective way to be able to support one another in achieving our goals.”
Dziubek is always happy when people like Osinski join the group, because it helps create a more robust and exciting network of people who are craving that connection.
“I have met a lot of friends and colleagues through the group that I work with often or constantly recommend for gigs that might not be the best fit for me,” Dziubek said. “It is also a good place for newcomers to make connections and learn from each other.”
Anyone can join the Toledo Creatives Facebook group by searching the name on Facebook and asking to join. Though Dziubek has taken a step back from leadership within the group, there are more than five administrators and moderators who will allow your entry in the group. At present, the group has 1.6k members and averages over 100 posts per month.
Moving forward, Dziubek would love to see the group keep heading in a positive direction.
“The in-person meetups may have slowed down, but the relationships remain,” Dziubek said. “I think we were successful in what we set out to do from the beginning which was essentially just getting to know each other and creating space for like minded individuals to chill. It has allowed space for collaboration rather than competition. I hope that mentality alone stays in the forefront.”
Members of the group are also always searching for more creatives to add, and ways to continue growing the already robust artistic scene within the area.
“For the longest time, especially when I was younger, I thought I would have to live somewhere else like Chicago or New York to have access to an exciting arts scene,” Osinski said. “Thankfully I was wrong, and I’m so glad I get to live in a place that prioritizes and creates artistic opportunities for all.”
Join Toledo Creatives by searching the group name on Facebook and sending a join request.