Ignite II focuses on arts, culture

Most likely, you would have trouble remembering what you were doing on April 30, which was not exactly a newsworthy Tuesday.

That is, unless you were among the 300 or so people who ventured to Berger Hall at UCCS that evening for the Colorado Springs debut of an event called Ignite, co-sponsored by UCCS, the university’s El Pomar Institute for Innovation and Commercialization, and the Business Journal.

Ignite has succeeded in many other cities across the country, following a simple format. Each speaker, addressing different aspects of the main theme (here in April it was economic development) could have only five minutes to make his or her presentation. Not only that, but the speeches had to coincide with 20 slides, which would change to the next one every 15 seconds, no matter what.

Hard to be boring with that format, and our debut of Ignite definitely lived up to its billing. Some presenters had a little trouble staying on track and matching up with the slides, but the rapid-fire agenda kept the audience interested and engaged throughout.

Now it’s time for Ignite II, set for Tuesday, Nov. 12, at 5 p.m., returning to Berger Hall, and for this event the theme will be arts and culture.

The audience will hear 10 presentations, adhering to the same rules: no more than five minutes each, 20 slides, progressing automatically. Aside from that, each speaker is free to go in any direction.

Just a quick look at the presenters should confirm the entertainment factor, starting (alphabetically) with Jim Jackson, co-founder and executive director of the Millibo Art Theatre, who’s all but certain to take advantage of his renowned performing skills.

But he’s certainly not a one-man show. There’s Jan Johnson, creator and executive director of the Ormao Dance Company; Natalie Johnson, executive director of the Manitou Art Center, just renamed from the Business of Art Center; Drew Martorella, executive director of TheatreWorks; Christina McGrath, executive director of the Cultural Office of the Pikes Peak Region; Jane Rigler, UCCS music professor with the Peak Frequency Creative Arts Collective; David Siegel, executive director of the Bee Vradenburg Foundation and accomplished violinist; Jim Turner, founder of the Indie Spirit Film Festival and the Independent Film Society of Colorado; Linda Weise, executive director of the Colorado Springs Conservatory (and always good for surprises); and artist Steve Wood, director of the Concrete Couch community-building organization.

The emcee will be Susan Edmondson, president and CEO of the Downtown Partnership, who provided one of the best takeaways from the last Ignite with her sampling of plans and projects.

Anyone with even a slight connection to the local arts and culture scene should appreciate the variety of talent and energy in that group.

But the room can’t handle a huge crowd. Admission is free, but after the UCCS students and faculty plus the Business Journal contingent, Ignite is limited to the first 250 online registrants. Go to ignitecoloradosprings.org, click on “Register” to sign up and you’ll receive parking and other information with your email confirmation.

Nobody will ask you for donations or commitments. It’s simply all about being informed and educated on what has made the Colorado Springs arts scene so vibrant in recent years.

If you care about the city, you have to be there.