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Creative Startups offers virtual help in NM during crisis

The home of Libraries as Launchpads website. COURTESY IMAGE

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — With New Mexico and much of the nation on virtual lockdown, the local Creative Startups business accelerator is going fully online to help businesses survive.

It’s moved all its programs to a completely virtual format, and it’s now offering creative businesses across New Mexico free access to its “Libraries as Launchpads” curriculum through the end of May.

Creative businesses — from individual artists, studios, and galleries to the performing arts, entertainment venues, tourism-related enterprises and more — are suffering immensely under the coronavirus pandemic.

Americans for the Arts estimates that the creative economy nationwide already lost about $3.24 billion just in the first two weeks of the crisis, and it projects an additional $5 billion to $10 billion in potential revenue losses through the summer, based on a just-completed national survey.

A group of senators, including New Mexico Democratic senators Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich, are calling on congressional leaders to include $4 billion in economic relief for the creative economy, plus support for a bill to make it easier for the industry to receive grants and other assistance from federal agencies, as part of the disaster relief package now under discussion in Congress.

Since launching in 2014, Creative Startups has offered intensive online and in-person training and education for existing businesses and aspiring entrepreneurs in the creative industries through eight-week cohorts and other programs in New Mexico, across the nation, and in a number of other countries. That includes its Libraries as Launchpads project, launched in 2018, to bring accelerator-based training to rural areas across New Mexico in partnership with the New Mexico State Library and state government agencies.

This year, the state’s newly-formed Outdoor Recreation Department provided a $50,000 grant to train more New Mexico cohorts in rural tourism and outdoor recreation-related businesses to help build their entrepreneurial endeavors.

But with the program centered around rural libraries to provide resources online and in-person, including mentoring and weekly cohort meetings, the program has come to a screeching halt, said Creative Startups Program Manager Julia Youngs.

“So we’ve decided to move the whole curriculum online for free for all entrepreneurs, including the in-person mentoring, meetings and outreach around the state,” Youngs said. “We want to respond to the crisis right now to keep many of our small businesses thriving and growing.”

In this crisis, it’s all about finding creative ways to manage businesses online and keep revenue flowing as much as possible, said Creative Startups co-founder and CEO Alice Loy.

The Libraries as Launchpads’ four-week curriculum can now be freely accessed at In addition, Creative Startups faculty will provide free webinars every Monday through mid-May starting March 30.


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