Pecha Kucha draws 900 creative types

By Liz Segrist
Published Nov. 21, 2013

More than 900 people cheered, as balloons dropped to kick off the 20th Pecha Kucha event at the Charleston Music Hall last night.

For the 20th event, attendees voted eight people to speak out of 161 applicants. Before the speakers began, Ethan Jackson, the client director at Lunch & Recess, announced that the organizers of Pecha Kucha plan to take a hiatus to refine its platform and events.

Terry Fox, the co-founder of Pecha Kucha Charleston, talks during the opening of the event last night at the Charleston Music Hall. (Photo/Andrew Sprague)
Terry Fox, the co-founder of Pecha Kucha Charleston, talks during the opening of the event last night at the Charleston Music Hall. (Photo/Andrew Sprague)
At Pecha Kucha events, which the Charleston Regional Business Journal co-sponsors, speakers have six minutes and 40 seconds to share their story. Speakers talked about their art and their passions and how to funnel that into a more collaborative, creative community.

Paul Roof, an associate professor of sociology at Charleston Southern University, said working with a nonprofit or getting involved in the community can help people see the world from a different perspective. He sought to inspire people to get out of their comfort zones, out of their homes and out into the community.

“If you show up to the starting line, you lapped everybody who stayed on the couch ... The future is here. The future is now,” Roof said.

Nathan Durfee, a local artist, said creative people do not necessarily have to follow an academic path or an obvious one, joking that “art school was the worst financial decision my parents ever made.”

“To be an artist, it takes time, love and attention,” Durfee said. “Love what you do.”

Local photographer Sully Sullivan said for an artist of any kind to have success, the person has to let go of insecurities, public opinion and attempts to appease others.

“It’s not about doing what’s safe. It’s not about doing it for everybody else,” Sullivan said. “Do it for yourself.”

During the event, speakers could showcase photos or videos on a large projector above the stage. Another projector displayed a clock ticking down the time left to speak, and another showed tweets from audiences members that used #pkchs in their messages.

Speakers’ topics ran the gamut from fashion, hunting, album covers, art, photography and poetry, to name a few. Marcus Amaker, a local graphic designer and poet, read a poem he wrote about being in the moment while showing a video of Charleston images and residents.

“Every moment that you’re alive is the only moment that matters ... Be present in the present,” Amaker said.

PechaKucha Night, now in over 700 cities, was devised in Tokyo in February 2003 as an event for young designers to meet, network and show their work in public, according to PechaKucha’s website.

Steve Warner of the Charleston Regional Development Alliance said creative types in Charleston make a $3.2 billion impact on the local economy and account for roughly 6.4% of the area’s workforce.

“That’s what makes this a unique, special place,” Warner said. “That’s what makes Charleston different.”

Reach Liz Segrist at 843-849-3119 or @lizsegrist.

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