This article originally appears on Little Black Book.
If you ask someone on the street what comes to mind when they think of Orlando, chances are they’ll describe a family-friendly, mosquito-ridden spec in the middle of Florida that boasts equal parts traffic, tourists, and thrill rides.
Although Orlando’s inhabitants know the reputation that precedes their city all too well, the members of its creative community know that there’s more to this place than overpriced turkey legs and rollercoasters.
In the hopes of enticing like-minded creators to see the City Beautiful as something more, this community is coming together to transform how the world views Orlando. Creatives are beginning to uplift the obscure cultural facets that make Orlando unique by emphasizing the otherwise unseen nooks and crannies of the city.
The City Creative
Orlando is home to several arts districts, each brimming with an abundance of culture. They go by the names of the Milk District, Audobon District, Thornton Park, Mills 50 District, and Ivanhoe Village. These districts are home to an eclectic intersection of culture that offers everything from book readings and listening parties to vintage stores, foodie hotspots, art exhibits, and more. For creatives, these districts act as beloved mini-hubs where they can meet up to hang out, create, and share ideas.
Orlando also happens to have access to some of the most talented young creatives in the nation. In addition to housing the University of Central Florida, the nation’s largest university, Orlando is also home to Full Sail University, which is known for grooming students into bona fide designers, videographers, photographers, and so much more. Graduates from these local universities are starting to realize that their city is transforming into a place where art, music, and fashion thrive and perhaps they don’t need to uproot their lives to see their careers in the creative field flourish.
The creatives that have graduated and chosen to start their lives in Orlando now play a key role in elevating the city’s artistic reputation. By starting projects and businesses such as the Creative City Project, the Mills 50 Art Box Project, Secret Society Goods, Burrow Press, and Park Ave CDs they are heading Orlando’s journey to finding its artistic voice. These Orlando-based artists are doing what they do best and are creating the city that they want to live in – a city that isn’t just a layover to the next big thing.
What the Future Holds for Orlando’s Creatives
Contingent with the area’s growing artistic talent pool and 3.2 percent projected job growth through 2019, digital media agencies, tech startups, and entrepreneurs have started to look to Orlando as a promising spot to plant their flag.
In response to this, the city is in the works of adding to their growing creative infrastructure scene by transforming a once-empty 68-acre lot in the heart of downtown into the city’s Creative Village.
The Creative Village will combine the new University of Central Florida and Valencia College Downtown Campuses, with office spaces for creative digital companies, urban living, various shops, bars, and restaurants.
This area is set to be the next step in the evolution of Orlando’s digital media, art, and technology conglomeration.
The city of Orlando is discovering that maybe it doesn’t need to fill the Mickey-Mouse-shaped mould that confines it. There is an entire multifaceted community being built by young creatives that has been bubbling throughout the city’s nooks–it’s just been waiting to be nurtured.