By Jim McCarthy Dec 30, 2011 0 comments

Why You Should Go to TEDxBroadway

As we round the corner into the new year, one of the things on my mind is the upcoming event, TEDxBroadway.

Last summer, I co-conspired with Ken Davenport and Damian Bazadona to come up with a Broadway conference that would be fundamentally different from others that had come before it.  The first thought we had was that it would be organized as a TEDx event, which means that it’s an independently organized event (by us) licensed by the TED organization that so many of you know and love and of which I have been an active participant for several years now and of which Goldstar is a partner.

We did this because we thought it was important to make the scope of the discussion broad.  Broadway isn’t just an industry that creates and sells theatrical productions; it’s a place, and that place has a lot of stakeholders and has the potential to have a lot of impact.  So our Broadway conference, we decided, wouldn’t be about “Broadway” but about Broadway.

Then we felt we had to ask a specific question that the day would answer.  After some deliberation, it was this:  What is the Best that Broadway Can be in 20 years?  And that is what the day is devoted to talking about.

Why this question?  There are two ways of looking at the future.  The first is that you see the future and a kind of inevitable extension of the present.  It’s the future that feels inevitable, and whether good or bad, is already on the way if you don’t do anything differently.

The second way of looking at the future is to create it the way you want it.  For Broadway, we thought it would be exciting to envision the best possible future as a way of making it possible for people to actually live into that big, bright possibility.  In other words, if you’ve never pictured what great is, how do you expect it to appear?  MLK said “I have a dream” and he described it because he knew that if people could picture something different and better, they might be able to live up to it.

Then we decided that 20 years was the right time frame because it’s difficult to imagine that far out.  As human beings, if we’re asked  to think about the future, we automatically think about 2 or 3 years from now.  Maybe 5.  This allows us to be comfortable with today, but just a little different.  Maybe an iPhone 7 or reality shows about camping and haircutting instead of cooking and singing.

But 20…it literally boggles the mind, and it takes a lot of imagination to think through what might be.  Add to that the near certainty that whatever you’d come up with will be wrong.

And if you disagree, ask yourself how many people were predicting the World Wide Web, the rapid and total end of the Cold War, a 65% drop in violent crime in America, a worldwide war on terrorist organizations, Kim Kardashian and all she represents, and so many other fundamental realities of how we live today.

So we gathered some really interesting people to talk about this subject from a range of angles.  We were especially interested to get people from outside the theatre business who had little or no experience with it, except as a fan or ticket buyer and mix and match those people with other speakers from within the Broadway world.

Randy Weiner, producer of Sleep No More, is going to be talking about creating content that breaks down every imaginable barrier.  Frank Eliason, famously formerly of @comcast cares fame now SVP of Social Media with Citibank and one of the Godfathers of using Twitter for business, is going to talk about what the future is really going to demand of customer service.  Steve Gullans is going to tell us about a distant future in which marketing is more like a disease spreading than it is selling and advertising and what happens when everything around you sees and hears what you say.  Juan Enriquez, a TED talks favorite, will probably freak us all about looking at the big picture economically.

And more.  15 to 20 presenters and performers all together.  All of whom will be answering the same question in different and fascinating ways.

What’s the best Broadway can be in 20 years?

Want to hear what people think about that?  Want to help us answer?

Then I invite you to reserve your get your spot now for TEDxBroadway.  This year, it’s open registration because we want to build a community, but in future years, existing community members will have priority, so get on in there!

It’s going to be a powerful day, and we’d love to have you!

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