(Ed. Note: Before beginning today’s article I want to thank everyone who took the time to show their support and appreciation for this site over the last several days. I posted my annual call for contributions to help continue this work and the response was both humbling and amazing. Knoxville is the best, but you knew that, didn’t you? The encouragement of everyone who has donated over the last few days, along with the many who have subscribed all along, is palpable. Please accept my humble gratitude.)
Coming up soon, the Maker City Conference marks its eighth year declaring to the world that Knoxville is The Maker City. While the summit celebrates Knoxville’s many makers, the focus remains elevating those who have ideas for businesses or who need support growing their business. It both supports and helps further ignite Knoxville’s creative class. The entire three-day event will be centered around the Maker Exchange inside the Downtown Marriot Hotel. Jasmine Newton and Jonathan Clark ( AKA Courageous) chair this year’s event. I met with Jasmine, Jonathan, Courtney Hendricks (Director of Maker Initiatives at The Maker City), and Anne Templeton, of Templeton Marketing and Events to discuss the upcoming conference and what participants might anticipate.
The summit, which was, in its inception, a single day event, expanded to three days last year and that format will continue with this year’s event. A Soiree in the Maker Exchange space, which is open to the public and free (though registrants get a free drink!), begins the activities on Friday night, September 8. Saturday and Sunday will be packed with more speakers and sessions than any previous year. Participants asked for more panels and breakout sessions and this year’s summit will deliver on those requests. Jonathan said the event will maintain the quality of previous years, but be expanded and different. Sessions were carefully scheduled to allow participants to catch all the panels and speakers that match particular interests.
The focus for this year, Jasmine said, is “education, connection, and inspiration.” To that end, twenty-three experts offer one-on-one sessions to help guide participants in all areas related to forming, growing, and sustaining a business and making your passion become your career. Jasmine said that this year feels like the “continuation of a story after COVID.” She said the 2021 conference was about coming together after being apart, 2022 explored defining a “maker,” and 2023 is about “making an impact together.”
Natalie Franke, who just published the book, Gutsy, and is co-founder of Rising Tide and “Chief Evangelist at HoneyBook,” serves as this year’s keynote speaker. The focus of her efforts is community over competition, encouraging makers to work together to elevate each other. Her new book, which was recently featured on Good Morning America, will be given to each person registered for the conference.
Free head shots will be available starting Saturday morning, with Mayor Kincannon welcoming attendees and kicking off the day. Topics through the two days include Marketing, Time Management, Social Media, and more. Sessions will be led by experts speaking to their area of expertise. Liza Zenni, Executive Director for the Arts and Cultural Alliances of Knoxville, for example, will discuss cultural grant opportunities. Casey Fox, Director of Development for Big Ears, and Hannah Houser, President of HH Creative, LLC, will jointly lead a session on how to make a living as a performing artist. And there are many. many others.
Saturday and Sunday’s speakers and sessions will be hosted in the downstairs convention and meeting space. Organizers anticipate upwards of two hundred fifty participants. Registration is currently open at $85, but the price will increase to $95 for last-minute attendees.
In short, expect to leave the event inspired and more informed, no matter what your creative endeavor.