Amir
Nurture the Creative Mind (NCM) founder, Amir Jackson, promotes the NCM Fe5tival event at Weber State. NCM held the event on Nov. 22. (Source: Nurture the Creative Mind)

New York native Amir Jackson moved to Utah with a dream in mind. That dream is now eight years old.

On Nov. 22, the Nurture the Creative Mind (NCM) youth arts foundation celebrated its eight-year anniversary. The event, Fe5tival, was held at Ogden’s Historic Union Station.

“It’s about bringing the community together through the arts,” NCM founder and Weber State alumnus Amir Jackson said. “None of our pieces are just about ‘look how cool we can paint.’ They’re about, ‘Check this out and be a part of it.’”

The foundation has brought many creative projects to the streets of Ogden, including its locally famous street piano project and the more recent No Regrets Box.

“It was a 4-by-4-foot box,” Jackson said. “People could put in the things that they regretted and kind of release themselves of that burden. Then, at the end of the summer, we burned all the regrets together as a community.”

Nurture the Creative Mind has been a staple of Ogden community for years. Psychology major Stacey Keller reminisced about the time she spent with the foundation.

Reflecting on the NCM open mic nights formerly held at Mojo’s, Keller said, “They were always inspiring. One of the best parts was watching people perform for their first time ever. The support, the love and the success that those nights offered so many is immeasurable.”

Eric Holmes, master of health administration student at WSU, helped recruit talent for the NCM Fe5tival event.

“It’s not just an after-school arts program,” Holmes said. “There are so many marketable skills that (students) learn. They’re going to be the artists who actually make money doing art and not just do it for a hobby.”

Holmes said the students at NCM have a true passion for the arts, something he believes comes from the community surrounding the group.

“It has amazed me how many community donors truly believe in what (Jackson) and the others are doing for Nurture the Creative Mind,” Holmes said. “We get so much support from local businesses.”

Jackson said the community is what has kept them going.

“I have personal testimony of the community that’s in Ogden,” Jackson said. “We have seen exponentially more growth and more support when we moved to Ogden than the five years prior in Layton … I feel like our community in Ogden would not allow Nurture the Creative Mind to fail, because they feel connected to it as much as I am.”

The future of NCM is brighter than ever as they embark on their largest project to date. The group is currently finalizing plans to create a large community space in Ogden.

“We’re going to be designing an outdoor community space,” Jackson said. “Our students are going to actually get to design it, construct it; they’re working with an architectural firm.” The community space is set to be in place by summer of 2015.

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