New ‘carnival’ makes space for artistic entrepreneurs

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Crescent City Creative Carnial 2018

C4 is an all-day event for creatives of all types to learn, network, and have fun. The second annual event takes place at the New Orleans Jazz Market on Saturday, Nov. 9. (courtesy of Crescent City Creative)

One’s social network can influence important decisions like who they ask for business advice, where they shop and how they listen to music. For professionals in the arts, that network could dictate their standard of living, job consistency or perceived professional value.

On Saturday, one couple will bring together creative business owners, branding strategists, entertainers and more to share industry insights and grow their networks together.

Crescent City Creative Carnival logo

via Crescent City Creative

Crescent City Creative is a nonprofit creative agency based in New Orleans and founded by husband and wife Willard Hill and Quan Lateef-Hill, who want the city’s talent to thrive more.

“We really see New Orleans as this cultural epicenter that is often overlooked as people focus in on New York, L.A., Atlanta and coastal cities,” said Lateef-Hill, a filmmaker and producer.

The couple currently resides in Los Angeles and works in the entertainment industry all over the world. They want New Orleans locals to have access to the same large-scale opportunities here as they would in other markets.

“It’s just such a creative town, and so many creatives are not necessarily getting the value or payback that they could be getting,” she said.

Not your typical fête, the second annual Crescent City Creative Carnival will be a day of programming for creatives of any discipline to grow as professionals and widen their networks.

Willard Hill, creative director and New Orleans native, elaborated: “It’s the best way to help people get up to speed on what they really need to get out there and compete in the entertainment world — not just in front of the camera, but also behind it.”

Creative professionals Natalie Kingston, Samjah Iman and Crescent City Creative co-founder Willard Hill appear on a panel at the inaugural C4 in 2018. (via Crescent City Creative)

A carnival for all creatives

The collective chose to forego the “convention” or “conference” verbiage to present a more comfortable, genuine environment to better fit the creative professional.

“Conferences, panels, and some festivals follow the same pattern, where it’s really tailored down to one specific kind of demographic or person,” explained Hill. The creative “carnival” brings an informal, fun element that is meant to serve all creators.

“For us, the idea of making a conference just seemed boring… We’re creators, and we’re professionals, but we still want to kick it,” he said.

‘Save the Date’ flyer by Crescent City Creative

The day will offer a youth service project in the morning and music showcase at night. Panel discussions and video screenings will give attendees ideas to discuss and share across industries.

Program highlights include a one-on-one keynote discussion with singer-songwriter and New Orleans native Teedra Moses; a panel discussion about managing one’s physical and mental health while creating; and a portfolio workshop for all.

Much like the program, C4 doesn’t focus on any particular discipline or type of person, which allows more opportunity to learn, teach and build bridges to opportunities outside of one’s own network, according to the organization. The carnival is interdisciplinary and multicultural so all can learn and be inspired by one another.

As black professionals, the couple has seen large industry conversations overlook voices from marginalized groups such as the LGBTQ+ community, other people of color and women. Being black and creating space like this is helpful, Lateef-Hill said, because they can ensure that none of those communities are left out here.

Students, teachers, and creative professionals are among the C4 audience. (via Crescent City Creative)

The future is creative

In its second year, the carnival has grown its reach and program offerings. There are more evening events, more mainstream industry professionals involved, and a new portfolio workshop session. With the success of C4, the organization hopes to produce more helpful events for local professionals throughout the year.

“Growing up in New Orleans, I’ve seen the talent this city both produces and attracts,” said Hill. “Our goal is to help our creative peers discover potential resources, turn their brainstorms into businesses, and make NOLA the creative industry center it should be.”

Though the couple is still trying to create the foundation of C4, they see this growing into a much bigger project in the future. Lateef-Hill explained: “I think the more we just show up and do the real work of it, people will start to buy in and understand where we’re going and grow more support for the vision.”

The Crescent City Creative Carnival takes place at the New Orleans Jazz Market, 1436 Oretha Castle Haley, from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 9. Tickets and more information are available at

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