“It seems like you’re trying to do a lot.”
“How on earth are you going to have a venue without liquor sales?”
“Knoxville already has a non-profit center.”
Something amazing happens when you do something completely out of the ordinary that is, for your city, completely new: the naysayers come out of the woodwork. Those of us with vision and ideas have forever been told that our ideas won’t work, we shouldn’t pursue them, and we should spend our time on more practical pursuits. These warnings of wisdom usually come from those who have never taken a risk on anything, let alone been in the ring of innovation. Yet, we let their fears and opinions sink in. We spend time wondering and second guessing our dreams.
It’s super simple for someone who’s never taken a chance on their ideas to shit on yours. It takes no time at all to let your mind react to something that you don’t understand. In fact, we do this all the time. We judge music, food, and people out of ignorance alone.
When we tell people we’re creating a performing arts space that will support local makers but also offer coworking space, most people think it’s awesome. Most people understand the logic behind having a buiding that’s used for multiple things. It’s called “paying the bills.” But every once in awhile someone with limited vision looks at us like we’re circus performers. I watch their face scrunch in agony as they attempt to wrap their brain around something their imagination cannot fathom. And then I do what I’m now calling “the Burke pivot.”
Perhaps it’s my own ego or my unmoving arrogance that our project will be a success. Maybe it’s the countless conversations with actors, musicians, artists, freelancers, developers, designers, and others in Knoxville and larger cities that tells me we’re on to something. Or, at the end of the day, it could be my competitive nature wanting to prove naysayers wrong. Whatever it is, I refuse to be intimidated by others’ lack of vision, and I’ve taken to saying, “You’ll just have to see it to understand it.”
I’m tired of seeing artists, creatives, and innovative thinkers told to hush up. I’m tired of reading that we’re educating the creativity out of children. And I’m really fed up with the look of horror from folks who just don’t get it. So for now, I’m going to keep pursuing my crazy wacky ideas. I’m going to continue to support those who have dreams and goals beyond a typical office job. And I’m going to encourage artists and makers to keep creating beauty. The world needs our innovation, our voices, and our unyielding energy.