Ignite Memphis Coming to New Ballet Memphis Digs

By Andy Meek

If it was possible to create a mixtape of Memphis creativity, it might look like an event set to take place this week at Ballet Memphis.

The 11th edition of Ignite Memphis moves to Ballet Memphis’ new Overton Square space on Thursday, Nov. 16, bringing its signature slideshow-based presentation format to the ballet company’s Midtown digs. Organizers look for spaces like this – big enough to hold a crowd of around 300, and buzzy enough that people want to go there, be there and absorb what Ignite has to offer.

The unique event, which starts at 7 p.m., will feature 12 speakers from a cross-section of Memphis, with a diversity of backgrounds and perspectives. They’ll be talking about whatever they want, whatever they’re passionate about.

The thing is, like always, they’ll be relying on slide presentations. It’s the same for every speaker. You’ve got 20 slides that auto-advance every 15 seconds, and you’ve got five minutes to give your whole talk. That’s pretty much it.

“It’s an event that happens in cities all around the globe,” said Dan Price, chief operating officer at Creative Works. “I think the most interesting thing about it is the format. It’s really fast-paced. The speakers are telling their story or sharing something that inspires them or something they’re passionate about. And then it’s on to the next one.

Speakers and their presentations include:

Lauren Ready: Why I Quit TV News

Cameron Haramia: Making Silly Faces Work

Louisa Shepherd: The Power of Possible Thinking

Cassi Conyers: Burlesque: Coco Rose’s Guide to Being a Bougie Stripper 

Samson Mobashar: The Fast-Art Phenomenon 

Kellie Mitchell: Take That For Data: Basketball, Birth Control, and Harnessing Hype for Health

Carrie Coxwell: Mental Illness in Tech 

Lawrence Thompson: I am Selfish 

Tami Sawyer: The Makings of a Southerner

Mahal Burr: Dyslexic and Proud

Emily Harvey: Don’t Hang Up: Confronting the Opioid Epidemic

Keith Goldberg: Overcome Anxiety and Unleash Your Most Confident, Epically Chill Self

“So, in an event that’s only a couple hours long, you get to hear 12 unique, distinct perspectives from people in Memphis, people that you might not know, know about, might never have heard their story before. It’s a really cool way to get a quick cross-section of Memphis in a short amount of time.”

Those storytellers this time around will be talking about everything from TV news to dyslexia to mental illness in the technology industry. The event is produced by the local Creative Works organization, and supporters include startup incubator Start Co. and restaurant Mama Gaia.

Tickets – available for purchase via a link on the Ignite web page, www.ignitemem.com – include wine, beer and appetizers.

One of the presenters is Lauren Ready. Her talk is about why she quit TV news – why she walked away from a reporter’s job at WMC-TV to focus on Forever Ready Productions.

That’s the enterprise she launched with her husband, through which she uses her journalistic skills to help organizations like nonprofits tell their stories.

“I love Ignite,” Ready said. “It's a great place to hear about multiple topics. My talk is really about my personal journey and change of heart in my career path. I hope people walk away with an overall understanding that taking a new course isn't failing, it's dreaming up a new dream.”

Ignite got more than 50 talk submissions this year, which made it tough to whittle that down to the final 12. Price said it’s about diversity – not only racial diversity, but gender, professional and perspective diversity.

The events are held generally in April and November each year. And there will be an after-party this week for attendees to hang out with and meet the speakers.