I may be using Jim McCarthy’s name as an expletive for the next several days, but those that followed that first conversation that led to me applying and being granted a TED license to organize an independently organized TED event on the future of the arts industry will tell you that really I have only myself to blame.

And while curating a TEDx conference is an amazingly daunting task, especially when your grandfather dies as things should be getting rolling thereby cutting a couple of crucial weeks from the process and throwing the rest into emotional turmoil, I face this Saturday’s event with a sense of hope and awe at the power of what can happen when we allow ideas to flourish in one of the greatest incubators of ideas that we have in the modern age. After all, many TED videos get watched by millions. If just one of the 13 TED talks on Saturday sparks someone into action, we could change the industry forever.

How cool is that?

So what I’ve put together is people from multiple perspectives and multiple backgrounds. I chose people that were thinking forward and maybe a step or two off the beaten path. People that challenge the world around them and see a brighter future for the industry.

Some of them you will be familiar with from around these parts at 2amt. David J. Loehr is a stranger to none of us talking about connection. Gwydion Suilebhan will look at disruptive technology while Eric Ziegenhagen dives into how the arts embrace social education.

You’ve also seen the stylings of Adam Thurman on Twitter who is fresh back from Las Vegas with new thoughts to challenge arts marketing. Ian David Moss has contributed to Twitter discussions as well and will discuss crowdsourced funding. Scott Walters is no stranger to strong opinions and plans to talk to us about bringing the arts back home. And Julie Ritchey who speaks from behind her @FilamentThreads handle will guide us through sustainable theatre.

But while 2amt has an immense following, the chance to hear new voices is the best part of the conference.

Seth Boustead is the founder and Executive Director of Access Contemporary Music, a Chicago based organization dedicated to the promotion of music by living composers and will talk about spreading storefront music organizations.

Drew McManus is the proprietor and author of the highly successful new media outlet Adaptistration, the only blog dedicated to issues about the orchestra business, and is regularly quoted as an orchestra business expert in a wide variety of international traditional media outlets. Drew will be giving us ideas about labor in the arts at a time when labor is a national issue.

David Dombrosky, the head of the Center for Arts Management and Technology at Carnegie Mellon University, will show us how we’ll be interfacing the arts with technology in ways only dreamed of before.

Lisa Canning, founder and Executive Director of The Institute for Arts Entrepreneurship will spread her message of No Starving Artists. Fifth House Emsemble, an innovative Chicago music ensemble, will talk about how they’ve used collaboration as inspiration and as an audience builder.

Tom Tresser, former arts administrator and current business and political activist, will give us his ideas on how the arts can transform business, opening potential doorways for arts organizations and corporations.

It’s a huge day with huge implications for artists, arts administrators, and arts lovers alike. Getting these ideas into the TEDosphere gives us a chance to grow, to challenge, to innovate, and to think in new ways through the power of these 13 ideas and the thousands more that will come from millions of people hearing them. It just takes one to start a movement.

And now, if you all don’t mind, I’ve got to finish all my Jim’ing work for this Jim’ing conference and hope that my Jim’ing hair doesn’t all fall out in the process.

TEDxMichiganAve will be at Symphony Center in the 8th floor Club room on Saturday, May 7th. Doors open at 8am, talks begin at 9am. For more information, go to the TEDxMichiganAve website. Buy tickets at Goldstar.

  • May 5, 2011
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