12 Best TED Talks on Arts and Entertainment for 2012

12 x 12 TED

As the new year approaches, we take stock of the year just passed, and note how we might do better. This weekend, take a listen to some of the great minds in arts and entertainment for insights on how they see the creative world, and their role in it. As usual, TED (The series of Technology, Entertainment, Design talks) has tapped some of the most innovative minds around.

From the Doris Duke Foundation’s Ben Cameron we can literally feel the excitement a grantmaker feels for the arts, while Renny Gleeson deconstructs the anti-social behavior of so many people today.

Johanna Blakeley says that it is time to discard the old ways of looking at demographics and embrace the new social reality. Architect Joshua Prince-Ramus discards the old ways of doing things to create a theatre that can transform itself with the push of a few buttons. Best-selling author Elizabeth Gilbert paves a new way for creative folks to look at themselves which is not so new after all, but removes the burden of self doubt from the process.

Filmmaker Morgan Spurlock sees money in the simplest things, even a Power Point presentation with naming rights. Lisa Gansky sees a future where everything meshes with everything else. Charlie Todd takes special event planning and event promotion to new heights. Think Barrington Stage’s Stella Shouting Contest was a stroke of genius, wait til you get a load of Charlie’s bag of tricks. If only all promotion people were given such free reign.

Patsy Rodenburg passionately explains why the world needs more actors, not less.

For those who can’t find time for work while they are at work, Jason Fried has a radical theory of why this happens. And Natasha Tsakos’ Upwake embraces technology with multi-media for the 21st Century, much as Joseph Svoboda did back in the 20th with Prague’s Lanterna Magika.

Finally, Stew breaks the stereotypes we all have with his ironic Black Men Ski. We have to stop putting people in narrow categories when doing outreach.

Ben Cameron: The true power of the performing arts

Arts administrator and live-theater fan Ben Cameron looks at the state of the live arts — asking: How can the magic of live theater, live music, live dance compete with the always-on Internet? At TEDxYYC, he offers a bold look forward. 12:45

Renny Gleeson on antisocial phone tricks

In this funny (and actually poignant) 3-minute talk, social strategist Renny Gleeson breaks down our always-on social world — where the experience we’re having right now is less interesting than what we’ll tweet about it later. 3:50

Johanna Blakley: Social media and the end of gender

Media and advertising companies still use the same old demographics to understand audiences, but they’re becoming increasingly harder to track online, says media researcher Johanna Blakley. As social media outgrows traditional media, and women users outnumber men, Blakley explains what changes are in store for the future of media. 8:28

Joshua Prince-Ramus: Building a theater that remakes itself

Joshua Prince-Ramus believes that if architects re-engineer their design process, the results can be spectacular. Speaking at TEDxSMU, Dallas, he walks us through his fantastic re-creation of the local Wyly Theater as a giant “theatrical machine” that reconfigures itself at the touch of a button. 18:42

Elizabeth Gilbert on nurturing creativity

Elizabeth Gilbert muses on the impossible things we expect from artists and geniuses — and shares the radical idea that, instead of the rare person “being” a genius, all of us “have” a genius. It’s a funny, personal and surprisingly moving talk. 19:32

Morgan Spurlock: The greatest TED talk ever sold

With humor and persistence, filmmaker Morgan Spurlock dives into the hidden but influential world of brand marketing, on his quest to make a completely sponsored film about sponsorship. (And yes, onstage naming rights for this talk were sponsored too. By whom and for how much? He’ll tell you.) 19:28

Lisa Gansky: The future of business is the “mesh”

At TED@MotorCity, Lisa Gansky, author of “The Mesh,” talks about a future of business that’s about sharing all kinds of stuff, either via smart and tech-enabled rental or, more boldly, peer-to-peer. Examples across industries — from music to cars — show how close we are to this meshy future. 14:48

Charlie Todd: The shared experience of absurdity

Charlie Todd causes bizarre, hilarious, and unexpected public scenes: Seventy synchronized dancers in storefront windows, “ghostbusters” running through the New York Public Library, and the annual no-pants subway ride. At TEDxBloomington he shows how his group, Improv Everywhere, uses these scenes to bring people together. 12:05

Patsy Rodenburg: Why I do theater

Patsy Rodenburg says the world needs actors more than ever. In this talk at Michael Howard Studios, she tells the story of a profound encounter that reveals the deeper role theater can play in people’s lives. 6:47

Jason Fried: Why work doesn’t happen at work

Jason Fried has a radical theory of working: that the office isn’t a good place to do it. At TEDxMidwest, he lays out the main problems (call them the M&Ms) and offers three suggestions to make work work. 15:21

Natasha Tsakos’ multimedia theatrical adventure

Natasha Tsakos presents part of her one-woman, multimedia show, “Upwake.” As the character Zero, she blends dream and reality with an inventive virtual world projected around her in 3D animation and electric sound. 14:37

Stew says “Black Men Ski”

What happens when a black man visits Aspen? Singer/songwriter Stew and his band are about to let you know. Stew is the creator of Passing Strange. Stew recalls that “Two unlikely heroes of mine, Maulana Karenga and Robert Redford, taught me the exact same thing: don’t wait for an institution to be built to get you what you need, build the institution your own damn self. ” 4:40


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