HATCH Asheville hires executive director

A new Asheville festival that aims to bring together creative minds for collaboration has announced the hiring of its executive director.

Craig McAnsh has taken the helm of HATCH Asheville, a mentoring event that was born in Bozeman, Mont., and will be held as a sister festival in Asheville from April 15 to 19, 2009. The event, which organizers plan to make an annual affair, hooks up mentors from film, music, design and technology, fashion, photography, architecture and journalism with up-and-comers in the various fields.

McAnsh, who recently moved from Atlanta to Asheville, has experience in marketing for clients ranging from CNN and National Geographic to the Weather Channel and the Cartoon Network. He’s also worked for two promotion and experiential-marketing agencies.

Since the February announcement that the festival was coming to Asheville, local organizers have been working on structural issues, such as raising money and securing venues. McAnsh is the only paid staff member of the organization.

In an interview Friday, McAnsh told Xpress that he’s got high hopes for the event.

“There are a lot of festivals in Asheville, and they’re all wonderful, but this one is a great blend of the arts and of the economy,” McAnsh says. “It’s not just about listening to music and having a good time. It’s about transferring knowledge and creating networks and building business.”

During the event, attendees will network, participate in panel discussions and check out fashion shows and concerts. The goal is to foster the growth of artists and spur economic development in Asheville.

“The core of HATCH is inspiring creative mentorship and the goal is to have the entire community participate,” says McAnsh, who hopes to start a community dialogue about the value and benefits of mentors.

McAnsh says he’s working with a local company to revamp the organization’s Web site to make it more of a social-networking site. And he’s planning to survey about 1,200 people on the group’s e-mail list who have already expressed interest in participating.

“The good news is there are people who want to be involved,” he says. “My job is to inspire them further.”

— Jason Sandford, multimedia editor

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