NAMPC Series Part 1—Walking the Gap

From Grace Robinson, Public Information and Research Coordinator—

Screenshot-2015-11-13-10.32.45-1024x284I personally find that the ‘best’ conference is one that speaks to both sides of the brain. There are the sessions that you leave with a notebook full of tips and tools and check boxes to be filled. And there are sessions that you leave feeling energized, inspired, motivated and ready to take on the world—or at least the industry.

NAMPC did just this. Sessions ranged from workshops to forums and panels, and a new one for me, disruptions. Additionally, each session followed one of four overarching tracts that gave the conference momentum and direction: intensifying engagement, stimulating revenue, energizing technology and markets as change makers.

Jad Abumrad, photo c/o NAMPC
Jad Abumrad, photo c/o NAMPC

As we delve into this conference together, I’d like to start in the same place we did in Salt Lake City, with the opening keynote from Jad Abumrad. Creator and Co-Host of Radiolab, Jad has been revolutionizing broadcast journalism since he stepped on the scene, and he actually spent a large part of his youth in Tennessee. I was truly blown away by his presentation. Not only was the content timely and important to the creative and communicative processes, it was also digitally impressive. His sound effects and graphics went well beyond the typical PowerPoint animations, despite a couple of technical hiccups. I mention this because, yes, I was impressed, but also because the overall ‘product’ of his presentation was a perfect example of what we as arts marketers should be looking to accomplish. He delivered a set of information aesthetically, passionately and informatively. His content and his channel were cohesive and together, effective.

So what did Jad have to say? Through the narrative of a personal experience in his career, Jad illustrated the positive impact of negative thoughts in the creative process. More specifically, he spoke to that moment in development when you see yourself or your project at a crossroads where a left turn is success and a right turn is failure, and you feel an unwavering certainty that the next step will lead you to the right. To Jad this is the “gut churn” moment, others have referred to it as “the gap,” call it what you may I believe we have all been there at some point. In contrast to the discomfort found during this time, Jad made the argument that there are positive aspects found in the challenge. Here are three main points of advice and hopeful thinking that I got from the presentation and would like to share:


  1. When you are not 100% clear on what the end result of a project will be, remember to keep your voice clear and consistent. This is referring to your organization brand. A brand is not only the look, i.e. the logo and color scheme, but also the feel. It is the language used in communications and the point of view that is held consistently.
  2. Don’t let uncertainty stop the mission. It is a natural inclination to slow down when approaching an unknown, from cresting that hill with the sun in our eyes to developing a campaign without all of the preliminary research in, we’ve all hit the brakes at some point. However, we often times find the answers we are looking for as we continue moving towards our goal—steps and results that would not have been taken or received had the project ended.
  3. The ‘adjacent possible’ is out there. “Dream big dreams and acknowledge limitations.” There are so many possibilities as to what a project can become and what it can achieve. Even if the ending product isn’t quite the original vision, there is still power in transformation. So use the drawing board and discuss the ideas and the dreams with your project team. You may be surprised—see the success of collaboration.

This keynote was powerful and informative. It spoke to both sides of the brain. And, while it correlated to the marketing aspect of NAMPC, it was also clearly connected to the arts and the creative process in general, meaning the idea of walking the gap fearlessly and with other people can be applied to other program areas. Jad successfully set the tone for the conference, and we proceeded to the breakout sessions ready to collect more tools and best practices to take back to our offices and apply while walking the gap and collaborating with others. I hope you have now as well.

Tune in next week for Part 2. Read the introduction here.