Marc Bamuthi Joseph’s Formula For Changing The World


Marc Bamuthi Joseph

How do you listen to a whirlwind?


If the whirlwind has a name, such as Marc Bamuthi Joseph, and he is before you – natty, smart, hey let me check you outstylish with a sharp lid tossed casually to the side as he picks up speed and lets the words fly –

– you sit back.  Now.

As a conference blogger, I sat at Marc’s Keynote Performance at the Plenary Breakfast Session on Monday at the Grantmakers for the Arts 2011 Conference, confident in capturing the essence of the experience while having my morning coffee with a ballroom full of my colleagues.

It became very clear that Marc operates at speeds unfamiliar to most people and I was left both delighted and bewildered by his message.

So in the spirit of capturing the wind, here is what I caught from that performance:

If you can’t outrun it, get out in front of it and figure out where we’re going

Let’s transform the iconography of an environment

Practice the art of believing that these things, dance, buildings, art, have redemptive quality

Here’s a recipe for a creative ecosystem of critical adjacencies –

Take equal parts revenue potential, artistic presence and invested audience consistency.

Mix well.

Let rise.

Voila! A localized interdisiplinary network.

No amount of Facebook contact can compete with public proximity and investment

Art happens everywhere for anyone

Art is not and object or an outcome only

Art is a process and an opportunity for community

It is hard for grantmakers to track outcomes and creative stimulus but perhaps we should be looking at metrics to measure the scale and health of creative partnerships in our ecosystems

Success is tied to the growth of others

Good changes in structure focus on interdependence, not products

Invest in artists who create contextual work within communities

Let’s shift nonprofit practice and structure to value accumulated surpluses

Formula for changing the world –

Audience development + good fiscal health = healthy arts field


Whew!  If you want to get closer to the wind and get more of Marc, check out

Let me leave you with my favorite piece of current wisdom from Marc:

If you can’t outrun it, get out in front of it and figure out where it’s going.


About the Author: Hoong Yee Lee Krakauer writes about how to be a nimble nonprofit, make life creative and make a difference at

She is also the Executive Director of the Queens Council on the Arts. Hoong Yee can be found surfing in the Rockaways whenever there are waves.

Do you want to know the fears, visions of perfect worlds and world changing advice of your peers and keynote speakers?  I have a special bonus post for you of interviews I conducted with people during the conference.  Just leave me a comment with your email or better still, subscribe and get new style notes for people who change the world at