When American film director John Waters took the stage last year at the Rhode Island School of Design to give what should have been the usual “go get ‘em” commencement speech, the crowd grew quiet with the wrong kind of anticipation.
“Go out into the world and [mess] it up beautifully,” he said, to an instantly revved up and highly engaged audience. Speaking to mostly millennial graduates, videos of the speech, whose words somehow gathered more momentum and meaning as time went on, quickly went viral. Like many artists (we would venture to say that many of you could fall into this category), Waters leveraged a sense of the unexpected into his commencement address, much like many of you are leveraging disruption in meetings. It was something his audience should have expected from a man most known for breakthrough films like “Hairspray.” So just why was the moment so stirring?
We spoke with our advisory board for this “Culture & Creativity” (page 24) issue to get the scoop on what makes for a truly memorable and engaging event. Not surprising, they all spoke of Waters’ own tactics; not just harnessing the element of surprise as he did, but the idea of changing things up in a creative way to really leave a mark.
You’ll find traces of these ideas throughout this issue—whether discovering new cultural programs along US’ coastlines (36) and Asian destinations (58) or using cultural venues as more than just backdrop from Berlin (65) to Nashville (78). We also took a page from Waters’ book in our Chicago Visionary Summit (76), held this past August, and in a breakthrough study with the IRF on the hotel-planner relationship (51). Do you have something to add to the conversation? Let us know!