The Create Virginia Conference will be free and held virtually this year with multiple online sessions over several dates.
The keynote speaker, New York Times technology writer Kevin Roose, will be speaking to attendees via Zoom about digital ownership and non-fungible tokens (NFT) on Aug. 3.
The conference has been hosted by the Academy Center for the Arts, Small Business Development Center in Lynchburg and Opportunity Lynchburg for five years and aims to give artists and makers opportunities to learn from one another and from state and national experts about how to build and grow sustainable arts-based ventures.
Roose is the author of the books “Futureproof” and “Young Money.” He also wrote “The Unlikely Disciple,” about a semester he spent at Liberty University.
The webinar will present information concerning non-fungible tokens and ownership of a work that artists need to be aware of and understand. A non-fungible token is a unit of data stored on a digital ledger, called a blockchain, that certifies a digital asset to be unique and therefore not interchangeable.
Roose and Academy Executive Director Geoff Kershner will hold a conversation about how new technologies such as cryptocurrency and NFTs are going to affect the arts.
Kershner said he thinks the environment for the arts and culture sector is rapidly shifting and it’s important to discuss what that could mean for how artists create and deliver their work and how they build revenue sources for themselves.
“Right now, it’s really important to be having a dialogue,” he said. “I don’t think we know exactly where everything is moving and where it will land but I think that there are really smart people who have some ideas around what direction we might be moving in and opportunities that might be available to artists in this moment of change.”
Kershner said while the change is happening at a national level, it’s important to hold conversations locally.
“I think that change might not happen as drastically as we might imagine but change is also happening. So I think that some of these conversations are in and around ways that things might change,” he said. “There’s been conversations in [and] around cryptocurrency for a really long time. It hasn’t taken over anything yet, but it’s definitely not going anywhere. And I think NFTs are a similar situation.”
He thinks there is an opportunity in how people think about their artwork and how they monetize it.
“Is everything going to go the route of NFTs? No, but some things are, and it is going to be interesting to see how things live in that digital space,” Kershner said.
Stephanie Keener, co-founder of Create Virginia and executive director of the SBDC Lynchburg Region, said the online webinar with Roose is free to attend, and while geared toward artists and creatives who want to learn more about non-fungible tokens and digital ownership, it is open to all individuals and organizations.
“It’s not just for artists,” she said. “It’s focused on them and they will get a lot out of it because it’s a conversation about the tech technology and the future.”
Often artists are left out of that conversation, she said, but they still are hugely affected now that they’re able to sell and protect their intellectual property through NFTs.
“Artists have never been able to do that on the internet before, so it’s really game-changing in how this impacts the arts,” she said. “So it’s a technology conversation, but it includes and centers around the arts like how are we going to protect that as we move forward into machine learning and artificial intelligence and whether it will be good for artists.”
Keener said the keynote address always has been designed to be something that is centered on the arts, but will be something anyone would be interested in.
Another free virtual conference will include a talk about “Career Resilience for Artists” on Tuesday.
“So it’s accessible for everyone. If your friend is a person who talks to you about Bitcoin, he should be at this,” she said. “It will be a bigger conversation about how we think technology’s going to be impacting creativity and our artistic nature.”