Why I've never been more optimistic about the future of Broadway
For the last eight years, I’ve had the great honor of co-organizing TEDxBroadway with a long-time friend, Jim McCarthy. It has been a total labor of love and entrenches me in a world of curating an event that has one core focus, what’s the best Broadway can be?
Working alongside Jim (CEO of Goldstar), who is a master at uncovering interesting stories and challenging speakers to aim for the rafters, we receive hundreds of speaker suggestions every year. Some tips come through as referrals, some come through organized programs we’ve created to find new voices, and some are cold pitches through the website.
No matter where a suggestion comes from, they all hold one thing in common: the person who wants to speak at TEDxBroadway is passionately invested in the future of the theatre industry. All pitches represent a burning desire to stand up on a stage and share a vision of what we should be doing as a community today to thrive as a community tomorrow.
This passion-based thinking is best represented by our Young Professionals (YP) program. The YP program is for the under 30 talent pool in our community who receive fully-subsidized tickets to TEDxBroadway as well as year-round networking opportunities. Each year, we ask YP applicants to submit an essay on their vision of what’s the best Broadway can be. The essays are always inspiring, controversial, moving, and ambitious. But most importantly? The pieces we receive are fueled with urgency and tenacity that the younger generation so beautifully delivers.
Just take a look at the word cloud of what the 100+ essays we received this year said:
Community, representation, diversity, etc. I doubt anyone would disagree that these are important topics, but it’s these young voices joining the conversation who I believe will be the catalysts in ultimately driving change. The ambition evident in these new voices impresses me year after year.
As an event, TEDxBroadway exists to nurture that very spirit of ambition, and it’s why we’re still doing it, eight years later. The Shubert Organization graciously gives us the stage and support to drive these conversations. Contributions from Broadway.com, Disney, Nederlander, Jujamcyn and others help us elevate the event. Sponsors from all facets of the industry have continually stepped up over the years with a range of much-needed services.
This event is an all-hands-on-deck effort, and it’s why I feel so good about the future of our industry. While Broadway may have its fair share of issues, events like this remind me about our willingness to address and discuss these issues together (which not every industry is open to doing).
Selfishly, I can think of no better place to be than one surrounded by a community of people who are endlessly curious and feverishly passionate. That’s the community we look forward to seeing. TEDxBroadway is officially less than two months away and will be at New World Stages on September 24th.
As I write this, there are a handful of folks working behind the scenes to make this event the best it has ever been. Our production team, headed by Situation’s Maria Martinez and Erin Asselta, are prepping for the curtain call. Our mastermind of communications, Patch Canada, is getting us ready for the final stretch. Our team of supporters including Zach Baer, Jillian Robbins and Situation’s Maureen Murray, all helped with the selection process of this year’s Young Professional candidates. And, of course, there’s Steven Tartick who has been an integral voice on the overall TEDxBroadway organizing committee.
With its infectious energy (and free cocktails), I invite you to join me at TEDxBroadway 2019. If you want to feel as good as I do about the opportunities in Broadway, surround yourselves with people that are the most passionate about the theatre industry’s success. I can promise you that TEDxBroadway will deliver two-fold because it’s not simply who’s on stage, but it’s also who’s in the audience with you.
I hope to see you in that audience on September 24th.
-- Damian Bazadona, Founder, Situation