SALEM — Judging by the turnout at Creative Salem's launch party last Thursday, you'd have to say Salem is overflowing with creative energy.
"There were so many people at the launch; that spoke volumes," said Helena Fruscio, creative economy industry director for Massachusetts, who attended the open house and spoke at a reception that followed at Cafe Polonia. "The community is rallying around this."
Creative Salem defines itself as "a local initiative with a mission to promote Salem as a hub of creative activity."
The organization houses seven members in a "creative incubator" in a suite of offices on Essex Street, in addition to offering services online to the whole community.
Creative Salem was founded by Salem businessman Darek Barcikowski, who in addition to owning Cafe Polonia publishes the Polish language newspaper White Eagle, and by Kevin Letourneau, director of entertainment production company WolfMantis.
Barcikowski and Letourneau are also partners in Ad Spice Media, which occupies one of the offices in the incubator.
"We're trying to bring a variety of talent together," Letourneau said, "to put people to work at what they're good at."
The other tenants include musicians, caterers and creative writers, along with the Salem Education Foundation and CodeMantra, a business that provides software services to publishers.
"The diversity of the organizations, in their co-working space, was really notable to me," said Fruscio, who was appointed by Gov. Deval Patrick in October and previously led the Berkshire Creative Economy Council.
"When you put creative people in the same room together, things happen," she said.
So far, the incubator has produced a short feature that has appeared on SATV, "Deja View: Valentine's Day Special," which showcases the skills of several Creative Salem members.
Letourneau produced the show, and Gregory Glenn of Salemonade, a business offering editorial and writing services, wrote the script.
The stars of the comic film are Aaron Katz and Callie Lipton, of local band The Dejas, who offer music production services through Creative Salem.
Letourneau's WolfMantis has also created promotional materials, including an industry video in both English and Spanish, that CodeMantra owner Walter Walker will use at an upcoming London Book Fair.
"This is an example of the cross-pollination the incubator provides, networking talents with other professionals," said Letourneau, who also hired an actress from the North Shore to appear in the materials.
In addition to leasing offices for reasonable rents, Creative Salem will establish an online directory where local talents and businesses can list their skills.
They also plan to host networking events, speakers and discussion forums for members.
"Once you get more and more people into that network," Fruscio said, "the better off they all are."
In addition to cultural nonprofits and individual artists, the state defines the creative economy as including advertising and architecture, arts, film, computer games, multimedia, and design. The creative economy employs 100,000 people statewide, according to Fruscio, and 20,000 on the North Shore.
Creative Salem is preceded in the region by the Creative Economy Association of the North Shore, which was established in 2003.
Letourneau, who previously worked as a student intern for the Creative Economy Association, said the goal of his new organization is to help define Salem as "the perfect hub" of the region's creative economy.
Creative Salem has no government funding, according to Letourneau, and is taking a "grass-roots approach, earning each step forward based on the success of the last."
"This group will bring its own energy," said Rinus Oesthoek, executive director at Salem Chamber of Commerce, which has offices on the floor beneath Creative Salem.
Oesthoek, who was at the launch party along with a number of other community leaders, said there has been a study influx of creative talent into Salem in recent years.
"It doesn't stop," he said. "There are so many different initiatives. Everybody's looking for a home."