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Thanks again for your support!
I’m happy to say that we are officially underway with TEDxBroadway 2013 and once again asking the question, “What is the Best that Broadway Can Be?”
And we ask this question in the broadest way possible. Broadway, after all, is not a metaphor for a theatre-producing community (well, it is that, but it’s not only that.) It is a place, indeed a neighborhood in New York City, and what makes this place particularly interesting is that it has a remarkable cultural power, due not just to the cultural products produced there, but the sheer volume of people who visit, live, and work there.
And so, for all the stakeholders, both locally and around the nation and world, the organizers of TEDxBroadway feel that challenging those stakeholders to envisioning the best possible future, and doing that along multiples different lines of inquiry provides a really worthwhile challenge and blends right in with the overall TED mission of “Ideas Worth Spreading.”
Anyway, today, we announced several (but not all…we’re still developing the roster and even holding back a few as surprises) of the speakers, including:
with a lot more to come.
So, by all means, join us! If it’s anything like last year, it’s going to be a fun, thought-provoking day with a very positive vibe and group of people committed to building a better future for Broadway, which in turn has an impact on the city and the cultural life of the world.
I’d also suggest that if you think there’s somebody who would be killer as a presenter as this event, we’re still curating content and talking to potential presenters (and performers, too, by the way. It is a Broadway conference, after all.)
And of course, if you know people who you think should go, by all means, spread the word.
Hope to see you there!
I thought I’d share a nice profile written by Randy Lewis in the Company Town feature of the L.A. Times today. Here’s a quick snippet:
“On the wall in the Pasadena headquarters of the Goldstar ticket service is a concert poster from a decade ago, framed with the will call list showing the names of every Goldstar customer who bought tickets to the show.
Both of them. There were just two customers for the first event the fledgling ticket company offered, a dramatic contrast with the 3 million who are now Goldstar members.
Many of them are drawn by the 50% discount that Goldstar Events Inc. routinely offers on tickets to rock and pop concerts, plays, traveling circuses, Dodgers and Angels baseball games and other sporting and live entertainment events.
But Chief Executive Jim McCarthy insists that price is only one component of the Goldstar mission.
‘Our goal has never been to sell half-price tickets,”‘McCarthy said recently. ‘The goal is to get people out to live entertainment more often, and we use price as one of the ways we enable them to do that.’”
With a nudge from our friends at TED, I want to say a couple things about what “Broadway” means to us, the organizers of TEDxBroadway.
Sometimes people use a word metaphorically. ”Hollywood” is a great example of that. People say it’s a “Hollywood movie” even when it was filmed in Canada and edited in the San Fernando Valley. In what sense is such a movie from “Hollywood”? Well, the company that makes it could be headquartered close to Hollywood, although no one would call a movie made in Studio City a “Sherman Oaks movie” because no one would no what that means. ”Silicon Valley” is similar. I’m going to a “Silicon Valley” conference next week, but I’ll never get anywhere near Palo Alto.
Broadway can be used the same way. ”Broadway” is an industry that not only produces theatre events in mid-town New York City, but it’s also the primary engine and idea factory of American theatre, and arguably, theatre worldwide. Somebody could be a “Broadway” actor and not have appeared on a stage there for a long time. So it’s used as a metaphor, much like Hollywood or Silicon Valley. *
But at TEDxBroadway, that’s not really how we mean it. Yes, we do mean to include the theatre industry and its worldwide cultural influence, but mostly, and where we see ourselves as being different from every other confab about Broadway, we are focused on Broadway as a place, a neighborhood, a part of New York that happens to have a disproportionate influence compared to its size on the culture and the imagination of the nation.
For this reason, TEDxBroadway was last year and will be this year and beyond about all the different disciplines and aspects of Broadway, the place. We haven’t announced any speakers yet, but as before, they’ll come from a wide variety of backgrounds, and the majority will not be in the theatre business. They’ll be stakeholders in Broadway as a place–people in government, tourism, academics, and just about anything else you can think of. But they’ll also be far afield from the usual sorts of folks you see hanging around at League events or checking the grosses on Broadway.com.
As we’ve said all along, TEDxBroadway is not designed for giving you “five practical things you can do to be better at your job marketing theatre tomorrow.” That’s not say you couldn’t pick up some great ideas to apply right away, but that’s not the goal. There are a lot of conferences and meetings and seminars and professional development opportunities that will do that better than we ever will. Instead, our goal with TEDxBroadway is to be consistent with the TED mission, which is to spread powerful ideas, in particular ones that are highly relevant to this particular patch of ground in mid-town and all the stakeholders thereof. If you don’t walk away with a practical application that makes you 2.1% more efficient tomorrow, I can live with that, because in ten years, something you heard at TEDxBroadway just make change you and that just might change the world.
So that’s what we mean when we talk about Broadway, and that’s what we’re after with TEDxBroadway. Hope to see you there.
(UPDATE: Howard Sherman is quite right to say that this is very much a matter of opinion and that Broadway is not “the primary engine and idea factor of American theatre”, but instead, one of many. I agree and was really more or less trying to characterize how some see it, as distinct from the approach of our event.)
Earlier this week, we announced to last year’s attendees that TEDxBroadway 2013 will be taking place on January 28th at the New World Stages in New York!
The purpose of TEDxBroadway is to ask a simple, but demanding question: What’s the Best Broadway Can Be? The reason we think this is an important question to ask is that it’s neither cynical nor unrealistic. The goal is to paint a picture of the best possible future for Broadway (and by extension to some degree, theatre in America and beyond) and then lay down the challenge to attendees and people watching on video after the fact to try to live into that future.
We got a little criticism last year for not being “practical” enough or not tackling some hard core issues that people wanted to see addressed on the stage, and I understand that criticism, but it’s also somewhat misplaced. The purpose of TEDxBroadway, as distinct from any other discussion of Broadway, the health of New York City, or theatre or the arts in general, or live entertainment, or whatever, is not so much a nuts-and-bolts look at how to do your job better tomorrow. Instead, the goal is to change the trajectory of your thinking TOWARD the best possible future. There are places and forums in which the nuts and bolts stuff is done well, and we’re not trying to duplicate those. What we’re trying to do is embed some powerful ideas in the minds of people who do or will have influence on the way Broadway functions, the way it sees itself, and the way, therefore, it will one day be.
Put differently, it doesn’t bother me if an attendee walks out of TEDxBroadway without “five take-aways you can put to use tomorrow at work.” The purpose of this particular discussion is to give people ideas that might take years to gestate, but just might change the world, or at least Broadway. On the other hand, it wouldn’t surprise me at all to know that people come across ideas that change the way they work “tomorrow” too.
We’re not announcing any speakers so far, so stay tuned for that. Our commitment once again is to get people with insight in various areas and fields to address the question “What’s the Best Broadway Can Be?”
Like last year, we’re expecting a full house, and we’ve already gotten the generous support from all of last year’s sponsors, including Jujamcyn Theatres, Google, Broadway.com all of whom are Co-Organizing Sponsors and have been critical to the development of the program. We’re also delighted to have supporting sponsors in Audience Rewards (back again from last year), Camp Broadway, Chase Bank, and the lawfirm of Davis Wright Tremaine. We thank them all because not only are they critical financially to the event, but they have also been important in helping think through the program itself.
So, the tickets are on sale now, and I personally urge you to do three things: 1. buy a ticket and come, 2. spread the word, and 3. send me ideas for speakers/presenters/performers who would do a good job helping us answer the question “What’s the Best Broadway Can Be?”
Here’s the link. Please post it everywhere:
And of course, there’s more information at the site, tedxbroadway.com.