An event at the University of Southern Maine in Portland will answer the question: What happens when you put an art professor and a CEO in a room together?

The event, From Imagination to Innovation, will run from 7:30 to 9:30 a.m. Thursday in the University Events Room of USM’s Glickman Family Library on Forest Avenue. The USM Corporate Partners, a group formed to support partnerships between the business community and USM, will host the breakfast meeting.

The idea is to bring business people together with artists and other creative types to discuss the role of imagination in their respective fields and in Maine’s economic development. Representatives of the public and private sectors will talk about how to foster the innovation and creativity needed to compete in the 21st-century global marketplace.

The Maine Center for Creativity and USM organized the event.

Participants and speakers, including visual artist and business entrepreneur Eric Hopkins of North Haven, will be asked to respond to one or more of the following three questions:

How does imagination function in your field?

•  How do you cultivate and sustain imagination in your work?

•  What will it take for us to foster these practices in Maine?

In addition to Hopkins, businessman Andy Graham and mime dancer Karen Montanaro will answer those questions. Other participants, among them University of Maine professor of civil and structural engineering Habib Dagher, will respond to the questions on video.

“Businesses have to innovate to keep surviving, so we know that the role of imagination is important to think about,” said Jean Maginnis, executive director of the Maine Center for Creativity. “We’re not pretending we have the answers. We are suggesting, ‘Let’s all answer the questions together.’“

Responses from Thursday’s event, along with responses from similar events held across the country, will be compiled for presentation at a national “America’s Imagination Summit” in New York scheduled for July. It’s expected that an action agenda will be developed to make the cultivation of imagination part of a national public policy agenda. The Lincoln Center Institute is sponsoring the nationwide effort.

Staff Writer Bob Keyes can be contacted at 791-6457 or at:

[email protected]

Follow him on Twitter at: