Arts & Business Council of New York's 2016 Speaker Series

Friday, November 18, 2016

Creativity is the driving force of innovative technologies. The Arts & Business Council of New York dedicated its annual speaker series on November 15, 2016, to exploring the intersection of arts and technology by showcasing companies that have developed and utilized new technologies to tap into the creative economy—transforming how the arts are accessed, produced, and funded.

More than 120 attendees gathered at Sidley Austin LLP to explore the Convergence of Arts and Technology with a panel discussion and networking reception. Bahia Ramos, Arts Program Director at the Knight Foundation, jumpstarted and moderated the engaging discussion featuring panelists Zachary Kaplan, Executive Director of Rhizome; Stephanie Pereira, Director of Learning and Engagement at Kickstarter; and Matt Wade, Interaction Design Creative Director at Google Creative Lab. Themes throughout included tech trends on the horizon, accessibility, and a commitment to employing artists within their companies.

Matt Wade described Google’s Creative Lab as “ambitious and crazy enough to come up with ideas that push the notion of what is possible and what is practical.” The Lab is “made up of designers, writers, programmers, filmmakers, producers, and business thinkers who spend 99.9% of their time making.” Attendees were some of the first to hear about the new Artificial Intelligence Experiments site launched by the Creative Lab and unveiled a few hours before the event (we love the Quick Draw tool!).

Stephanie Pereira shared the origin stories of Kickstarter—an online platform for creators whose founders were “people who made stuff in the margins.” She shared that in its current evolution, Kickstarter has newly reincorporated as a Benefit Corporation (or B Corp for short), making their mission to bring creative projects to life core to their business practice. Stephanie illuminated how they exist not merely as tech platform, but also as a hub for networks of support for creative endeavors. One attendee from Performance Space 122 tweeted: “Kickstarter is much more than a crowdsourcing platform, they’re a community builder! Ou[r] artists can attest.”

Zachary Kaplan chronicled the evolution of art made and living on the internet since 1996, when Rhizome was founded. As the tools and speed of technology rapidly transform, Rhizome—a born-digital art institution based on the internet—captures and archives art in the digital space as far back as art made on Adobe Flash or with VGA Graphics (throwback!). Zachary revealed their upcoming project with their arts and tech counterparts at the New Museum, NEW INC, to create a digital preservation system to archive digital artworks in diverse formats.

Bahia Ramos of the Knight Foundation added to the discussion and spoke from an institutional perspective about the role foundations can play in supporting the efforts of arts organizations like Rhizome through a grantmaking process and how they have thought creatively about changing their funding models to now support individual artists’ contributions to the ever evolving arts and technology narratives.

Attendees asked pointed questions during the Q&A portion of the panel and stayed for the closing reception, where conversations continued to unfold among corporate, nonprofit, academic, and independent sector professionals. Check out the photo album from the event on Facebook.

The Arts and Business Council of New York develops creative partnerships between the arts and business communities in New York that both enhance the business skills of the arts sector and promote creative engagement within the business sector. The 2016 Speaker Series was sponsored by Sidley Austin LLP and Wix.