What does a Creative Consultant do? It can be a lot of things, but it always involves the intersection of imagination and expertise. In an attempt to clarify what it can entail, Rodney Whittenberg shares a few stories.
"In May of 2013, I received a call from Nancy Rodgers, President of Lincoln Financial Foundation. Lincoln Financial had just initiated a project to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the Gettysburg Address and The Emancipation Proclamation. Lincoln Financial initially had filmed interviews with politicians, celebrities and everyday people whose life experience spoke to the ideals of Abraham Lincoln’s Legacy of freedom opportunity and equality. Lincoln Financial wanted to do something with the interviews to inspire and support teachers and young people. I reviewed all the videos and designed the next step in the process.
"In September 2016, in partnership with KlamorHouse Records, we released 'We Stood Up, Reflection on the Civil Rights Era.' The CD, 'We Stood Up,' is an audio anthology that features interviews with living civil rights leaders who stood on the front line with Martin Luther King. The anthology included featured original songs and poetry from Maya Angelou and Sonia Sanchez. The CD is free for teachers, schools and libraries. The reviews from teachers and students have been awesome. Goal achieved!"
"In 2007, the Franklin Institute was putting the final touches on its Identity Exhibit. One of the more ambitious components of the exhibit was a kiosk that would express your identity in a musical format. The Institute had spoken with a few composers, but it had failed to find an appropriate contributor. The Institute's goal was to let an audience member create a piece of music that expressed one's identity by toggling among several personality traits. The machine would play the personalized music back to the audience member.
"I worked with the Franklin Institute’s creative team to incorporate all technical and research elements to inform the thinking behind the exhibit. We ultimately chose a simple tune 'Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star,' and I completed multiple arrangements with different tempos.
"The kiosk was a huge success and has subsequently toured the world. Goal achieved!"
"In December of 1999, I had just been elected to the Mid-Atlantic branch of the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences (the Grammys). At the December Holiday Membership party, I was introduced to Pam Mammarella, the wife of one of my fellow board Governors. Pam was and remains the Vice President of Newcourtland Elder Services. Our eight-year professional relationship began with a two-minute conversation.
"Pam explained that her organization had began an initiative called The Comfort and Joy program. The goal of the program was to bring the outside world into the nursing home. Pam’s macro mission was to change how the world responds to aging.
"New Courtland Elder Services’ Comfort and Joy Program brought in photographers, artists, a floral arranger and a mosaic tile artist, but it was difficult to get attention from the media, trade publications and the community at large. I immediately thought of, and suggested, an intergenerational animation project, which Pam peaked Pam' interest.
"I clarified that the idea would be to partner with an elementary school, that 30 students from that school would interview 15 seniors about their life experiences. The students would be tasked to tell the story they heard back to the seniors, in their own words, and then both student and senior would write an original song based on the stories, and they'd draw accompanying images that would be animated. Finally the seniors and students would go to a recording studio and record the soundtrack.
"Pam was very enthused about the idea. I sent a proposal with 10 ideas, and the intergenerational animation was the idea that was agreed upon.
"I began work on the project and within 2 weeks the project was ready. Within two months of signing the contract, I had HBO interested in the animation. In November 2000, HBO, New Courtland and Melodyvision co-sponsored a screening of 'Joy and Wisdom.' A total of 300 people, plus press and local dignitaries, attended a 13-minute showing of the collectively created animation. The animation aired on HBO Families' 30 by 30 Kid Flix—for three years! New Courtland received The Governor’s Silver and Gold Award for Enhancing the Image of Older Persons for 'Joy and Wisdom: Sharing Elders Stories' and other recognition for excellence in aging. Goal achieved!"