TEDxArendal – How it all began
When the idea of a TEDx event in Arendal, was first mooted by a few budding entrepreneurs in the local business community in 2013, it was intended to address the absence of a networking platform that would allow businesses to develop and innovate creatively.
The TED concept was relatively unfamiliar in Arendal then. However, the initial scepticism quickly subsided and curiosity finally took over when it was understood that the TED concept is a global initiative.
TED’s goal is to embrace and spread new ideas, to enrich and challenge ones perspectives and extend ones scope of thinking so as to inspire a better life and subsequently a better world.
And TEDx, an offshoot of TED, would spread this concept to communities all over the world by welcoming people from all walks of life to speak, for no more than 18 minutes.
The entrepreneurs quickly realised that in order to pull off such an event successfully, they would need the support of Arendal’s municipality. The municipality’s involvement would not only provide the project with access to key decision makers but also with financial backing.
The municipality, it seemed, needed little convincing. It was intrigued and enthused by the idea, as it was in line with its ongoing efforts to propel Arendal as a place with an international mindset. It believed that a TEDx event could create a gateway that would help cement the municipality’s efforts at reaching this goal.
The consensus amongst all parties involved was clear – a TEDx event in Arendal would help bring the world to Arendal and bring Arendal’s own bright minds to the world.
So in 2013, TEDxArendal was born!
Come a long way…
TEDxArendal has come a long way since its humble beginnings in 2013.
Its first event was held in a cafeteria in the Eureka building with only 100 attendees – the maximum number of attendees that a first tier TEDx license would allow.
Encouraged by the turnout and the positive reviews from the events that followed, a second tier license was successfully sought in 2016. This led to a 2-day event with over 1600 attendees that same year!
TEDxArendal’s ability to stage successful events that stood out did not go unnoticed. While still in its infant years, it was encouraged by TED to create and build ‘TEDx in the Nordics’ comprising of TEDx event organisers from Norway, Denmark, Sweden, Finland, and Iceland.
That TEDxArendal was bestowed with this opportunity served as a validation that the TEDxArendal model worked.
Not one to rest on its laurels …
In 2019, TEDxArendal embarked on an ambitious plan that would see a major shift in the execution and delivery of its annual event.
One of its first challenging tasks was finding a time slot that would work best and add the most value for its attendees. The feedback that TEDxArendal received led to its decision to rework its program to a 12-hour event that would begin at noon. It would cater to only 700 attendees since this is the maximum seating capacity of Arendal Kulturhus’ biggest theatre.
While still maintaining a focus on high quality speakers and showmanship, TEDxArendal also decided to create opportunities for the local community to play an integral part in its annual event.
From welcoming local businesses to showcase and present their own ideas creatively, to using local restaurants as dining venues for their attendees, and inviting volunteers from diverse backgrounds to be part of the TEDxArendal family, no effort was spared in encouraging participation and promoting inclusivity in TEDxArendal.
It was intended, and continues to be, not only about creating value for its attendees but also about giving back, sharing and learning together with the community.
The arguably risky move of redefining a working model has proven to be a resounding success for TEDxArendal.
This is evidenced by the overwhelming response from the community seen through its eagerness to participate in the event and the quick sell out of tickets – feats that TEDxArendal is proud of.
Moving forward, TEDxArendal is adamant for attendees to continue to expect the unexpected, and leave inspired and eager to come back for more every year!