What if we helped creative people grow with the city?
What's cookin' at Secret Knowledge - March 2017
In November of 2016 Secret Knowledge managed to pull off a really great day of creative empowerment for the 2nd Annual Secret Knowledge Conference. Goodness, it took a lot of effort. 2016 was a bear of a year. The election and subsequent administration change seemed to cast a shadow over everything. The conference itself helped clear the air some.
When creative people don't know what the future holds, they have a hard time investing in their creative careers. Most of this year's attendees signed up in the last day or two before the conference. Still, we pulled it off. Another great conference. It's probably the bravest thing I've ever done. It took a lot out of me, folks.
It's been pointed out that I, as the founder of Secret Knowledge, in many ways resemble the creative people Secret Knowledge helps. For the first three years I ran Secret Knowledge as my fulltime job, facing many of the same entrepreneurial risks & challenges as a nonprofit leader which Secret Knowledge helps entreprenurial artists & musicians to surmount. It's part of what qualifies me to do this work, I suppose. Secret Knowledge is a calling for me.
My plan was to grow Secret Knowledge to a point where earned income, grants, and charitable contributions would provide steady funding for our programming & a steady working livelihood for my work as Executive Director. I did a good job and Secret Knowledge did grow considerably. My livelihood during this period has been anything but steady.
Garnering major sponsors for last year's conference and securing our first ever grant award (Thank you, Oregon Arts Commission!) at the start of 2017 were important milestones in Secret Knowledge's organizational growth. Without that support there would be no conference last year and very little to offer in the way of programming in 2017.
Like creative work, running Secret Knowledge is brave work. It's risky for me to do. Having a great team to work with helps. Having Portland's best landlord helps. Having a supportive family helps. But there comes a time when these aren't enough to mitigate the risks.
2017 has brought some looming changes which make running Secret Knowledge as my fulltime job considerably more risky than in previous years. These include: threats to the existence of the NEA, the possiblity of repeal for the Affordable Care Act, and a large shift in what people can count on vs. what we must all fight to preserve. I can say without exageration: the world has changed, and so I have to change how Secret Knowledge operates.
I can't run Secret Knowledge full time anymore. The good news is, if we're doing it right I won't have to. The really hard stuff is all in place. We built a great brand, great programming, and built a network of participants and supporters.
My next step is to build Secret Knowledge's board of directors. Having a great team is what will keep Secret Knowledge great moving forward.
In the meantime I'm hunting for a day job; just like creative people do. I have to solve that part of my puzzle. This will be a game changing shift for Secret Knowledge, not a game-ending one. It will mean greater opportunities for you to get involved. There will be new strategic trade-offs. I promise to keep balancing those trade-offs and to keep offering the best programming we can muster.
To that end I'm thrilled to announce our first program of 2017 - Secret Knowledge Exchange Happy Hour - May 23rd 6pm - 9pm at Rogue Ales Eastside Pub 928 SE 9th Ave
Facebook event here.