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Archive for the ‘art’ Category

When K and I got back to Sydney after four years living overseas in April 2012, we weren’t aware of Vivid Festival beyond a few facebook updates noticed and then forgotten over the previous two years. I accepted a speaking invitation even, without really realising what I was getting involved with. And then May rolled around and the city lit up.

Literally.

Image

Vivid wasn’t just a bunch of talks, it was a showcase of the most amazing digital projection technology I’d ever seen, complimented by Burning Man-style installations around the Harbour foreshore. It was extraordinary. And that was just the “Light” part of it; there’s also a brilliant Music program and, yes, a bunch of talks which comprise the Ideas stream. Each would be an awesome festival in its own right; together than seem to energise the whole city.

Despite my rockstar fantasies it’s the Ideas section I find myself involved with again. This year I’m thrilled to be part of four events, two of them organised by my friends at Vibewire, one put on by StartSomeGood ourselves and the last a panel on the funding of creative projects organised by the Media Entertainment and Arts Alliance.

Here’s my personal program if you want to come along to any of them:

  • #fastBREAK: Save the World: A special edition of Vibewire’s monthly #fastBREAK sessions made up of rapid-fire ideas from interesting people. Instead of the usual 7.30am Friday start this is at the very civilised time of 10.30am on Sunday May 25 at the Powerhouse Museum. It also features an incredible line up of speakers, from activists to politicians to hip hop legends to and entrepreneurs. It’ll be my please to introduce them all as MC (yo yo!). Get your tickets now!
  • Funding Creative Work Now: a panel on the new ways creative work is being funded, featuring a bunch of awesome creative entrepreneurs and me! 1.30pm Thursday May 29 at the Museum of Contemporary Art.
  • Be Awesome at Crowdfunding Masterclass: I’ll be teaching a 3-hour crowdfunding masterclass sharing everything we’ve learned while helping people raise millions of dollars through crowdfunding. Find out everything you need to know to be awesome at crowdfunding and how you can use it to launch or grow your initiative. For creative or social entrepreneurs, community organisers or non-profit fundraisers. 1-4pm Thursday June 5. Some tickets still available, book now!
  • Pitch the Future: A pitch event for ideas which could change the future, hosted by Vibewire in partnership with StartSomeGood. I’ll be hosting. This should be really fun and is free so come along! Sunday June 8.

And I’ll be in there with the family tonight when they turn the lights on at 6pm.

If you’re in Sydney have a great Vivid Festival! If there’s particular events you recommend please share them in the comments below.

Photo of the Sydney Opera House lit up during Vivid Festival by Jason Meaden shared on flickr with a creative commons license.

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I recently published this on the StartSomeGood blog and wanted to share it here too for anyone who might have missed it there.

During my recent trip to Australia I attended two beautiful weddings. At one of them I was asked to do a reading. I agonized just a little over the choice, consulting with several friends for ideas and preparing a short-list of my favourite poems and speeches. I wanted something that spoke to the glorious adventure my friends were embarking on, that didn’t pretend it would be easy or always fun but which acknowledged the significance, magic and importance of the journey itself. Eventually I realized that as is true for so many things Dr Seuss said it best.

I want to share this with you because I think the journey of a social entrepreneur, like that of a marriage, contains all the elements the good Dr. writes of. The journey of being an entrepreneur, but especially of being a social entrepreneur, setting out to do something much harder than simply make a buck, is a long road filled with obstacles and incredible highs and meaning. Most of all it is an expression of true agency, the decision to create a more perfect world, the dedication to see this decision through: “You can steer yourself in any direction you choose.”

Like a marriage being a social entrepreneur is a journey of a thousand miles fueled by hope, passion and commitment. It is filled with uncertainty, requiring a determination to stick with it through good times and bad. Marriage is a statement of connection with an individual while being a social entrepreneur is a statement of connection with a community or even with the whole world.

When you choose to devote yourself to a cause it’s often a choice driven by a sense of need, of needing to do something about an issue, needing to reach out, connect, help those in need. Putting your shoulder to the wheel of history and moving it in the direction of justice is mighty work, and there will be setbacks. “Bang-ups and Hang-ups can happen to you.” You will feel tired and dispirited sometimes. You will feel uncertain about the way forward. You will wonder “what next?”.

But we need you. We need your passion, your smarts, your refusal to give up. The world needs people as brainy and footsy as you to be part of creating a better future. To help us see things we couldn’t see before, to go places previously unexplored, reveal things previously misunderstood. And as you go on this journey you will find connections and create successes that will fulfill and sustain you, inspire and uplift you. You will have fun, despite the hard work, because there’s nothing more exciting than creating your own destiny and working with a community of people in the pursuit of the future you all imagine together.

Your mountain is waiting. So get on your way!

Nb: when I read this to the bride and groom I changed “guy” to “guys”. Because there’s two of them.

Oh! The Places You’ll Go!
by Dr. Seuss

Congratulations!
Today is your day.
You’re off to Great Places!
You’re off and away!

You have brains in your head.
You have feet in your shoes.
You can steer yourself any direction you choose.
You’re on your own. And you know what you know. And YOU are the guy who’ll decide where to go.

You’ll look up and down streets. Look’em over with care. About some you will say, “I don’t choose to go there.” With your head full of brains and your shoes full of feet, you’re too smart to go down a not-so-good street.

And you may not find any you’ll want to go down. In that case, of course, you’ll head straight out of town. It’s opener there in the wide open air.

Out there things can happen and frequently do to people as brainy and footsy as you.

And when things start to happen, don’t worry. Don’t stew. Just go right along. You’ll start happening too.

Oh! The Places You’ll Go!

You’ll be on your way up!
You’ll be seeing great sights!
You’ll join the high fliers who soar to high heights.

You won’t lag behind, because you’ll have the speed. You’ll pass the whole gang and you’ll soon take the lead. Wherever you fly, you’ll be best of the best. Wherever you go, you will top all the rest.

Except when you don’t.
Because, sometimes, you won’t.

I’m sorry to say so but, sadly, it’s true that Bang-ups and Hang-ups can happen to you.

You can get all hung up in a prickle-ly perch. And your gang will fly on. You’ll be left in a Lurch.

You’ll come down from the Lurch with an unpleasant bump. And the chances are, then, that you’ll be in a Slump.

And when you’re in a Slump, you’re not in for much fun. Un-slumping yourself is not easily done.

You will come to a place where the streets are not marked. Some windows are lighted. But mostly they’re darked. A place you could sprain both your elbow and chin! Do you dare to stay out? Do you dare to go in? How much can you lose? How much can you win?

And if you go in, should you turn left or right…or right-and-three-quarters? Or, maybe, not quite? Or go around back and sneak in from behind? Simple it’s not, I’m afraid you will find, for a mind-maker-upper to make up his mind.

You can get so confused that you’ll start in to race down long wiggled roads at a break-necking pace and grind on for miles across weirdish wild space, headed, I fear, toward a most useless place.

The Waiting Place…for people just waiting.

Waiting for a train to go or a bus to come, or a plane to go or the mail to come, or the rain to go or the phone to ring, or the snow to snow or waiting around for a Yes or No or waiting for their hair to grow. Everyone is just waiting.

Waiting for the fish to bite or waiting for wind to fly a kite or waiting around for Friday night or waiting, perhaps, for their Uncle Jake or a pot to boil, or a Better Break or a string of pearls, or a pair of pants or a wig with curls, or Another Chance. Everyone is just waiting.

No! That’s not for you!
Somehow you’ll escape all that waiting and staying. You’ll find the bright places where Boom Bands are playing. With banner flip-flapping, once more you’ll ride high! Ready for anything under the sky. Ready because you’re that kind of a guy!

Oh, the places you’ll go! There is fun to be done! There are points to be scored. There are games to be won. And the magical things you can do with that ball will make you the winning-est winner of all. Fame! You’ll be famous as famous can be, with the whole wide world watching you win on TV.

Except when they don’t. Because, sometimes, they won’t.

I’m afraid that some times you’ll play lonely games too. Games you can’t win ‘cause you’ll play against you.

All Alone!
Whether you like it or not, Alone will be something you’ll be quite a lot.

And when you’re alone, there’s a very good chance you’ll meet things that scare you right out of your pants. There are some, down the road between hither and yon, that can scare you so much you won’t want to go on.

But on you will go though the weather be foul. On you will go though your enemies prowl. On you will go though the Hakken-Kraks howl. Onward up many a frightening creek, though your arms may get sore and your sneakers may leak. On and on you will hike. And I know you’ll hike far and face up to your problems whatever they are.

You’ll get mixed up, of course, as you already know. You’ll get mixed up with many strange birds as you go. So be sure when you step. Step with care and great tact and remember that Life’s a Great Balancing Act. Just never forget to be dexterous and deft. And never mix up your right foot with your left.

And will you succeed?
Yes! You will, indeed!
(98 and ¾ percent guaranteed.)

Kid, you’ll move mountains!
So…be your name Buxbaum or Bixby or Bray or Mordecai Ale Van Allen O’Shea, you’re off to Great Places!
Today is your day!
Your mountain is waiting.
So…get on your way!

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Цвета музыки (Colours of Muzik)

I have a confession to make. I’m a crowdfunding addict. Or as I think of these emerging platforms: peer-funding. For the first time projects can be funded by those who share the passion and vision of the creator. In other words, not the anonymous crowd, but your global peers getting together and saying “let’s make this happen”. That’s new, powerful and very cool.

Peerfunding (or crowdfunding, if we must) is the facilitation of numerous small contributions to fund specific, time-limited, projects. Crowdfunding is an offshoot of crowdsourcing, the buzz term from a couple of years ago that gave us talent-mobilizing sites such as GeniusRocket for creative and InnoCentive for scientific problem-solving, outsourcing these functions to the crowd. But this new breed of sites are different, and not just because they are asking for money instead of logo designs or film concepts. Crowdsourcing is focused on producing a unique high-quality contribution (be it logo or film or chemical breakthrough), harvested from the crowd, these new funding platforms work cumulatively. Just as Barack Obama proved the power of small dollar fundraising in the political world we are now seeing the power of small dollar philanthropy in new sectors, especially the arts.

This model first caught my attention in the lead-up to this year’s Burning Man, as numerous arts collective raised funds for their projects on Kickstarter. It was really exciting to see some of the amazing things in development and to be able to support in my own modest way a couple of projects I thought were most exciting. And I’ll admit it, I did it for the perks too, including the promise of a ride on a very cool artcar (which I never took them up on sadly).

The focus on perks is another unique feature of this model of these new platforms. Across all the leading sites it is required that projects articulate “perks” for their funders. And I don’t mean the usual “feel good about yourself” perks, I mean “give me something cool” perks. This works perfectly for many creative projects that are object-oriented – if it’s a zine or book you can receive it (signed!), if a film you get a dvd or a credit, if an exhibition or catelogue a print. Digital projects tend towards the thank-you pages and downloads of code (woot). At the higher amounts everyone has to get more creative: dinner with the artist; consulting; an event at your house; an award in your honour.

It’s all fun stuff, and it beautifully fuses the line between philanthropy and straight-up shopping. I have always enjoyed purchasing hand-made zines, now I simply pre-buy them and in so doing give the creator the confidence and funds to make it. I enjoy film, and spend money on a Netflix subscription, so why not actually chip in to see documentaries on issues I think are interesting or important made? Some of the projects on Kickstarter in particular have blown out their fundraising targets by seemingly-absurd amounts, raising 1000%+ of their goal, but this is usually really just an unexpected run on a groovy new product. Being quasi-philanthropy and quasi-shopping simultaneously attracts more supporters than either approach alone would engender.

Over the past few months I have supported the publication of zines both micro-micro and merely niche via Kickstarter, production of a documentary on avant-guarde culture in Jerusalem via IndieGoGo, a series of social change posters via LoudSauce and the relaunch of a much-loved independent media website via the Australian FundBreak. There is also Spot.us, which supporters journalistic projects.

These sites are not all the same. Kickstarter and Fundbreak are exclusive to creative projects while IndieGoGo is broader and LoudSauce and Spot.us even narrower, specifically funding public interest advertising campaigns and journalism respectively. All of these sites except for IndieGoGo operate on an “all-or-nothing” model whereby if the project doesn’t raise its target by the deadline they receive none of it, with all contributions returned. This is a perfect fit for creative projects (and advertising campaigns) that have very specific amounts required to produce the project (whether it’s printing costs or tv time) or else it can’t happen at all. There’s a necessary tipping point. If it project doesn’t raise the necessary funds then the commitments are returned and its no-hard-feelings. It gives a security to contributors that the project will really happen or their money back and for creatives it reassures them that if necessary funds aren’t raised they’re not on the hook to those who have contributed thus far.

Not all types of projects have this tipping point and currently only IndieGoGo caters to them with a keep-what-you-raise system. This can create another, also important, sort of confidence, that those supporters people have been able to mobilize will see their support realized and delivered.

The biggest gap I see in the peerfunding space currently, in addition to having several valuable niches currently unserved, is that they are all based around one-off projects. There’s nowhere where you can create a stable profile for an organization or enterprise and then fundraise for specific projects over time – building a community across these projects and deepening your engagement with these supporters. I’ll have more to say about this soon.

Have you contributed to any projects on a peerfunding platform? What do you think is working and how could it be better?

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Both Thanksgiving and Christmas are good times for taking stock and thinking about the things we have to be grateful for. For me this means thinking about my global tribe and how lucky I am to have you all in my life. Thinking about this made me realize, once more, how important travel has always been for me, for the relationships I’ve gained and the experience of other cultures and the global perspective that grows from this.

I sincerely wish everyone could have the opportunity to travel and, in the absence of that, I support anything that opens up a window on the world and gets people thinking more globally.

At this time of year I know everyone gets hit with endless requests for support and, yes, I’m putting one out also. I wrote previously about my involvement with Razoo.com’s zooGooder council and how impressed I’ve been with Global Lives Project since coming across them after moving to San Francisco. Over the coming week the members of the zooGooder council are having a friendly competition to see who can raise the most funds and attract the most donors for their favourite nonprofit. Naturally I’ve chosen Global Lives Project.

Here’s my video explaining why:

(Aside: My first video blog! Kinda scary! What do you think?)

Razoo have generously made available a $2000 prize pool for the person who brings in the most donors and with your help I’d love to be competitive in win! this category. Every donation, however modest, counts as a point towards this prize. In addition I’m also a fundraiser for Global Lives Project’s own group fundraising challenge this month. As part of the launch of this new service Razoo will match the first $200 I raise. What’s more Global Lives Project has a matching grant of up to $30,000 if raised before the end of the year.

Follow all of that? This means any money you donate could be matched up to THREE TIMES! That’s a pretty good return on your investment.

More to the point, whatever money we raise will support Global Lives Project to expand their activities next year – holding new exhibitions and developing educational materials for use by school groups. These videos undoubtedly have artistic merit but it’s this educational element I’m most excited about as I think facilitated contact with this content could really get people thinking in new ways, more globally and empathically. In other words, sharing with those who might not have the chance to travel some of the most important benefits we get from the travel experience.

As little as $10 counts towards the most donors challenge and would mean so much to both Global Lives Project and me. If I can raise $1,000 this week I will be stoked, and we will know we’ve made a real difference to this small but important organization.

But I know not everyone has even $10 to spare so there are other ways you can help as well:

•    Tell your friends! Use the share buttons at the bottom of this post to share the link on Twitter, Facebook ,etc.
•    Share your story! All this week I’ll be sharing things travel has given me using the hashtag #travelteaches. Join in! Share your own #travelteaches insight on Twitter and, space permitting, link to http://bit.ly/trvlteach where I’ll be collecting the responses.

Of course, please donate if you can:

I can’t wait to hear your stories! Thank you for your support.

More on Global Lives Project:

Artist’s statement from GLP’s Yerba Buena Center for the Arts Exhibit:

Framed by the arc of the day and conveyed through the intimacy of video, we have slowly and faithfully captured 24 continuous hours in the lives of 10 people from around the world. They are screened here in their own right, but also in relation to one another.

There is no narrative other than that which is found in the composition of everyday life, no overt interpretations other than that which you may bring to it.

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