“Set Up Your Future Success: Invite the Artists!”
This article was originally posted in MEETING the Magazine of the MPI Toronto Chapter
The arts have always been a powerful catalyst for change. There is something about the creative experience that captures the hearts and minds of the viewer on a level of depth in ways conventional communication falls short.
“Give em the old razzle dazzle” as the song goes…
The fact of the matter is – if this article was, instead, a fully produced cirque-like production, complete with all the music, acrobats, dancers, bells, whistles and full creative treatment etc… I’m willing to bet you would pay attention until the end, and therefore, would fully grasp this core message.
Sadly, in this medium, IE words only, I’m likely to hold your attention only for a few more lines before you are “Gone with the wind.” Am I right?
Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to 2020.
In March, the hospitality and events sector suffered some of the worst economic impacts of the global pandemic. Sadly, many artists who serve this sector also were caught in the riptide of cancellations, postponements, and the dreaded “force majeure” conversations. Like dominoes falling in tandem, show after show was systematically #cancelled.
Overnight conference professionals everywhere were glued to screens fully transitioning to the virtual conference format and tackling yet another obstacle…
The question on repeat became: “How do we create an engaging and transforming experience for attendees?”
The answer is: Look no further then your favourite entertainment supplier.
In other words: Look for the creatives.
As an insider I can say, without hesitation, that the creative professionals have been remarkable at moving with, and adapting to, these extraordinary times. It has truly been awe-inspiring to bear witness.
But this is not a new phenomenon.
There are countless historical examples of how the arts has been successful in helping humanity not only grapple with, but outright CHANGE popular opinion AND ultimately shift behaviour for the betterment of all.
Enter stage left the following cultural tipping points:
In 1878 James Bailey illuminated his touring circus performances with electricity. This was the first time most Americans had ever seen the wonders of the light bulb. You would be hard pressed to find someone today who has not adopted the use of this revolutionary technology…Let there be light!
On January 16 1938, Clarinettist Benny Goodman took the first non-segregated jazz band to the stage of Carnegie Hall in New York City – with both white AND black musicians included. This initiated a boom in mixed race performances which we now enjoy today as the norm. Can you honestly imagine live music any other way?
This year David Attenborough created the documentary Life On Our Planet which is a witness statement in support of the urgent need of climate action now. (I am secretly hoping this film becomes one of the most watched motion pictures of my lifetime because of the awareness it brings to our planet on the brink of survival).
Of course, I could go on…
“When we change the way we look at things, the things we look at change…”
The truth is the arts help us to do just that:
So, how does this impact your next conference?
Basically, the creatives are the ones who can help you shine a spotlight on some of the most critical issues of our time in a way that is tailored and appropriate for your audience. Consider both challenging and educating your viewers on the topics of racism, sexism, colonialism, patriarchy, cultural appropriation, mental health, and the technological singularity through the very powerful medium of the performing arts.
Are you seeing how important creatives are in the process of humanity’s evolution?
So why then is entertainment or art in any form ever perceived as “frivolous” “expensive”, “unaffordable”, or worse “non-essential” especially when it comes to creating digital conference experiences?
Yes, you can afford it – diversified artistic inclusion is simply a matter of choice and a reorganization of priorities.
In fact, a thriving arts sector is the pulse of a dynamic and abundant society. This is why my colleagues and I see it ourselves as truly, an “essential service” and we make no apologies for this assertion.
In a day and age where we REQUIRE CHANGE to move forward as a species or self-destruct is entirely up to us. The writing is on the wall. Humanity is on life support and we all feel it, if not consciously, then subconsciously. It’s time to act and bring forward a new level of consciousness and the most ACCESSIBLE way to do this is through the medium of entertainment…
What we have here is the opportunity to change the world, one meeting, one event, one engagement at a time.
You need the creatives, and the creatives need you.
Julie Danaylov, CSEP is Co-Founder of A2D2 ~ Aerial Dance Cirque Co. and Perform & Prosper Inc. In addition, Julie is a serial volunteer, lending a hand in the MPI Toronto PD Committee and the Diversity & Inclusion Taskforce 2020-2021 teams while also serving as a Board Member on the Umano Canada team.