Hundreds packed out downtown's historic Victoria Theatre last Friday for the inaugural TEDxDayton - and the message was clear: Dayton needs its culture to survive.
As I set foot into the Victoria Theatre this week, I immediately got the sense that something big was going on.
Hundreds packed out downtown's historic playhouse as TEDxDayton began, and though many speakers came and went from the stage - businessmen, academics, and thought leaders - the message was clear: Dayton needs its culture to survive.
Photo above right: Herbert Woodward Martin, master poet takes the stage at TEDxDayton. Photo left: Justin Howard of the Black Box Improv takes a selfie in front of a captive audience.
"Arts and culture shouldn't be icing on the cake, it should be a binding ingredient," said Marta Wojcik, executive director and curator of Frank Lloyd Wright's Westcott House in Springfield. "Art and culture help to connect the dots."
Indeed, Tedx gave me some insight into art around the city I would never have found, and in great variety. From the highly successful Chris Wire of Real Art Design Group to street dancer Dillon "Stoney D" Stoneburner, the talents in Dayton are many.
As a central theme of the event, some of the art was intensely personal. Wojcik shared her life growing up in Krakow under the veil of communism and a love for monuments and architecture that brought her to Dayton, just as the Westcott House saw a revitalization. Some talked on race, some simply performed their instruments. Passions and walks of life varied the notes, but Dayton was the harmony.
Local choreographer Rodney Veal showcased a dance with performers from the Stivers School for the Arts that expressed his own experiences with loss of vision. Spoken word artist Jay Martinez challenged us to step up in making the city a better place.
After he finished an improv set that knocked over half of the room, Justin Howard of the Black Box Improv shared an ounce of wisdom that summed up the whole experience.
"Don't leave here trying to network or rub shoulders with important people - there are no important people in Dayton" Howard said to a chorus of laughter, before adding "Leave here deciding you're going to do something."
Tristan Navera is a freelance writer from Dayton, Ohio, and foodie behind Another Food Critic, a blog dedicated to providing comprehensive, insightful and honest restaurant reviews.