In a recent episode of Rug Radio: Elevating LGBTQ2IA Folks in Web3, @jessesoleil and I hosted a recap of NFT.NYC. What we heard—from those that attended and those that didn't—was that there are many ways we can make IRL events more inclusive. In this article, we explore 5 of them for event organizers and attendees.
Shout out to our guests who provided insights including, @empresstrash, @a13xhutchi, @realgrl, etc.
For Event/Conference Organizers:
I recently attended two funerals via streaming. Two different cities, two different churches, two groups of inexperienced and budget-constrained staff. If the catholic church can figure out how to stream an event - with exceptional quality, by the way - then web3 has no excuse.
The reality? More folks CAN'T attend your IRL events, than those that can. Barriers like cost, mobility, social anxieties, et al. prevent many folks from participating IRL. This disproportionately affects folks that are young, old, with disabilities or mental illness and those that are economically disadvantaged.
Streaming allows event organizers and sponsors to reach a wider audience. In addition to increasing access and reducing isolation, FOMO, etc., for those at home.
Too expensive? Build it into your already-extortionate conference costs. Too complicated? See note above re: the catholic church.
IRL event planning should include a "meta" strategy, including high-quality experiences for those unable to attend. With the metaverse, we don't have to limit these experiences to streaming. Entire digital worlds can create immersive social experiences to complement and augment the IRL. Examples of this could include:
- Simple Things: exclusive content, like video interviews, with speakers and live-streamed presentations
- Middle Road: metaverse events where participants access social experiences through their avatars
- Complex Integration: virtual and augmented reality immersive events
A helpful parallel comes from my previous work in the NBA. "Game Operations" is responsible for programming the experience of 19,800 fans in-arena. The much larger teams of Broadcast, Media, Communications, Social, Marketing, et al. programmed the experience for the 1.4 million average viewers watching from home.
Include Daytime Events
Evening events and parties aren't going anywhere---it's a case of "and" versus "or". But daytime events are a no-brainer for making web3 IRL opportunities more inclusive.
It's often overlooked that evening events include loud music, bright lights, and many people. Which can lead to overstimulation for neurodiverse folks and those with social anxieties.
Luckily, other groups often benefit when we make things more inclusive of one group. So, daytime events will benefit neurodiverse and folks with social anxieties, but they will also increase access to those with:
- mobility issues
- mental illness
- evening work; and
Don't Focus All Events Around Alcohol
Alcohol can be a great social lubricant, but its presence can exclude many folks.
This includes those that are sober, aren't yet 21 years old, or those with certain cultural or religious beliefs. Additionally, web3 has many talented, young, artists not yet 21.
The obvious option would be to make your event "dry" (without alcohol). In the event that may not be possible, other solutions include:
- creating alcohol-free "zones" within the venue
- providing times throughout the day when the event is open for all ages
- serve crafted, non-alcoholic drinks (not just water)
It's also important to consider the experience you're curating for these attendees. Sometimes organizers put in place one or more of the above solutions, but with minor consideration for how they add or take away from an event. For example, an alcohol-free zone that's completely removed from any of the entertainment of the evening is just a really shitty event.
The goal is to do the above while still making it enjoyable for all attendees.
For Event/Conference Attendees:
Tagging Artists in their Exhibited Work
@empresstrash shared insights about how event attendees can include the people at home. One suggestion was to take photos of exhibited work and tag the artists in their posts.
She explained that when artists aren't in person, they often have no idea whether people appreciate their artwork. They may see exhibition catalogues weeks or months later, but that's not guaranteed. This means they miss out on the immediate feedback and appreciation that comes from exhibiting.
By tagging an artist's work, you help them to:
- receive some of that immediate feedback and appreciation
- increase their exposure to audiences of these large events and opportunities
- secure extra content to share among their community and collectors
There is no shortage of ways for event organizers and attendees to include the folks at home in IRL events. The first step is acknowledging this as a challenge. The second step is prioritizing it within your strategy.
Have any ideas, strategies, or tactics to add to the above? Tag me in a post on Twitter (@flynnkristina) using the hashtag #web3inclusion