Scarlett Swerdlow and Jennifer Armstrong, two fellow Emerging Leaders, who not only were a driving force behind this conference, but conceived of co-opting the TED-style format that is near and dear to my heart. It worked. Ideas are spreading, and people are talking.
The things that stick out for me and that I have heard the most as people talk:
Collaboration: Bruce Mau's diagram showing how individually we aren't breaking through the "noise barrier" and how, working collaboratively, we can break through and achieve exponential growth together. There was as much inspiration in that graph as there was talk of how hard collaboration is. We need to get past the difficulties and find ways of making collaboration second nature.
Innovation: James Goggin had what I believe are the two biggest words of the conference, "Embrace Barriers". This resonated with me with crystal clarity. Innovation doesn't come from funding. Innovation provides value by creating something new, something creative, where things were once stopped up by those barriers. We get rewarded for the value. Let's seek it out. Big shout-out to Orbert Davis as well who had some great thoughts in this area and that I'm looking forward to getting to know much better.
Participation: Albany Park Theater Project showed just how pervasive community involvement can be without sacrificing excellence or integrity. Kevin Coval of Louder Than A Bomb showed how giving voice to students can inspire those students and others and bring a city together. I would love to put all these guys and the folks from Fifth House Ensemble in a room together and see what happened. I think it would be earth-shatteringly powerful.
Diversity: I was deeply moved by both Dr. Carrie Sandahl and Tanya Saracho as they told their stories and shared their successes in bringing diversity to the arts world. This is the kind of work that I personally want to see come to the forefront of the arts world. We need to embrace diversity in our artists so that we can brace diversity in our audiences. I have said before and I will say again "The best way to tell your audience that you don't care about them is to never put someone they can relate to on stage." Props also to Sheila Simon for reminding us of the African origins of the banjo. These amazing ladies are making a dent. Let's work together to break open a giant, gaping hole.
Visionary Thinking: From Bruce telling us to engage in positive thinking to Frank Maugeri's vision to engage the entire city of Chicago at once if possible and being able to turn on a dime in changing production to meet his vision to Dan Sinker changing how people around the world look at Twitter as more than just a news feed or celebrity gossip and more as a medium where art can happen to the Lt. Governor of the great state of Illinois, Sheila Simon, using banjo to spread a message far and wide about domestic abuse, there were big, visionary ideas on the table here. These visionaries were putting themselves out there and attracting people to them through ideas that can't be kept to themselves. They show us that we need to get out of our daily grind and inspire everyone around us with the power of art.
I was glad to be a part of One State Illinois, and happy to be your humble blogging guide to the great things being shared there. I strongly encourage you to check out the videos as they get uploaded to the site to get in on the idea-creation. Ideas of my own are brewing.
I've been encouraged by the positive forces at work here and the support from the community for being a thought leader myself in the industry. I will be looking at starting a series of workshops, based on the feedback of what people are looking for and my own strengths as an entrepreneur and innovator, that help to bring people together from across the industry, get them out of their offices and into creative space, thinking about positive innovation and big ideas to break through the noise barrier. More details to come as they come together here at ArtsAppeal.
I hope to see even more great breakthrough ideas, people, and connections made in the days ahead. Share your own ideas and projects in the comments below. Let people know what you're doing moving forward or support an idea that you want to be a part of. Together, we'll work together as one state, one great state, together in the arts.
Subscribe to ArtsAppeal and have it delivered right to Google Reader or your favorite RSS feed here.