It’s raining here in Kansas, and I’m sitting here, at work, in my office listening to the thunderstorms outside while writing this.  

Shhh, don’t tell my boss!  

(In reality, I couldn’t have a boss more supportive of NCECA, but maybe I’ll talk more about my mom another time.)  

And don’t worry, next year’s conference will be over before tornado season begins.

I love writing this Saturday series of articles…I love talking about NCECA…(well, really, I just love talking, but you probably already know that).  Though I’m really not a great writer, it is just so much fun for me to share this deeper level of insight into the way this organization works.  (And I also have to say thank you to all of you who found me at conference and told me that you were enjoying reading these.)  Today, I want to tell you about how NCECA finds what we refer to as the Conference Headliners.  Have you ever wondered how we come up with the Keynote speaker for a conference?  Or the Randall Session…Dance band…or some of the newer elements of the conference like the roundtable and the K-12 room?

Most of these come from a massive board brainstorming session that happens at our Spring meeting.  (Let me pause and paint you a picture for a moment): My fellow board members, whom I am convinced are WAY smarter than I am, all sitting around a table throwing out names of people who might make great keynote speakers or distinguished speakers or roundtable folks as I frantically google them and wonder to myself, “how do they KNOW these folks?”   For the keynote speaker, we usually try to find someone from outside of our field, but who has some kind of connection to ceramics and can inspire us from outside of the realm of clay.  Once that person is selected, the roundtable usually forms around a topic that connects the keynote speech and the art world.  It’s always interesting to me to watch that unfold.

We also spend a good deal of time about Randall session (If you don’t know what the Randall session is all about, check out this video of Jay Lacouture explaining who Ted Randall was, and why we have the Randall session.  He says it better than I ever could!), which is essentially the “Garth Johnson” department.  I learn all kinds of new things there.  (but of course, this year, we are Garthless….).  The dance band discussion is usually led largely by the locals on the board (expect some AWESOME music in KC.  We have a great music scene).

The list of folks we want for the closing lecture (which is usually someone that is a treasured member of our field) is long and continues to grow.  Jack Troy’s Anecdotal Evidence this past year was touching, funny, beautiful, and inspiring.  (Watch for it next week right here on the blog) We have so many wonderful artists in our community, and personally, I just want to hear ALL of them speak about their lives.

By far the most challenging puzzle is the simultaneous demonstrators.  There’s a whole formula.  2 males, 2 females, sculptors and potters, and at least one international artist.  Then add to it, stage presence and the ability to have some chemistry with the other person on the stage and it can become quite complicated.  We also discuss some really great presenters for the K-12 room, which is an area that doesn’t render me to sit, silently googling, because I do know a LOT of great educators.

Now, speaking of really smart people, Steve Hilton, who just finished 6 years of service to the board as the programs director, came up with a brilliant idea.  We can find out about WAY more people by asking YOU, our membership to help us with this task.  A few months ago, Steve and I put together an online form for people to fill out to make suggestions for these conference headliners.  It’s a pretty simple form, and you can fill it out as many times as you like for as many suggestions as you have.  Prior to our spring board meeting, I will sort & compile all of these suggestions, do all of my googling in advance, and (although I might like to keep the info to myself so that I can look like the smart one for once), I will then send out the list with all the supporting links and data to the full board prior to the meeting so that we can have a more efficient discussion and plan.

So now, I’ve talked enough, and since so many of you told me at conference that you’re following the blog, it’s time for me to hear from you!

Click here to make suggestions!

(PS. I never realized how many parenthetical phrases I use when I write!   geesh.)