Posted May. 5, 2017 at 10:00 a.m.

Unlocking the cool factor: How pop culture-inspired STEAM programming attracts an audience

Published: 2017-05-05 10:00:00
Updated: 2017-05-05 10:00:00

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Outside of my day job as ExitEvent sales and events coordinator, I try to find different ways to blend my interests in music and innovation. This takes variety of forms: taking on side hustles, performing as a DJ, producing my own mixes and, for the second consecutive year, serving as program director for Innovate Your Cool. It’s a conference that highlights all things Innovation, Music and Culture, taking place alongside the Art of Cool Festival that successfully engages Durham’s creative arts community every year.

Conference Director Michael EnglishIn the months and weeks leading up to the conference, my task was to frame a full day of educational programming with the noise of a large scale music festival in the background. I am personally not one to hide from a challenge, but I admit attempting to match educational programming with the same quality of programming on the music side was a bit daunting at first.

I was faced with the challenge to create a STEAM-based conference for a traditionally disengaged audience early on a Saturday morning, only hours after witnessing hip hop artist Rakim put on a show at the Durham Armory and hours before the mothership that is George Clinton & Parliament Funkadelic would take the stage at the sold-out Carolina Theater.

With all of the noise and self-imposed pressure, I took a put the medicine in the candy approach to creating sessions that would attract our target audience, people of color ages 8-48. As I describe the experience, allow me to also share some things that I learned while planning for the Innovate Your Cool Conference.

Lessons learned? Read the full story at:

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