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From the stage at Capitol Hill’s Egyptian Theater, Ignite Seattle grows city’s conversations

Seth Zuckerman at Ignite Seattle’s May 2018 session inside The Egyptian (Image: Ignite Seattle)

Every few months, the city’s bravest souls get on stage in front of hundreds of audience members to talk about a topic of their choosing. Each speaker gets five minutes and 20 slides for 15 seconds each to talk about their greatest passions, discoveries and musings.

Ignite Seattle, which began in 2006, is the largest open submission speaking event in the Pacific Northwest. These days, it calls Capitol Hill home. Three or four times a year, a crowd gathers at the Egyptian Theater to listen to some of Seattle’s most interesting — or, at least, most talkative — people as they impart their wisdom on a crowd of nearly 600. Their next event— Ignite #37 on Thursday, October 4th — has been sold out for weeks but you can check out for information on the standby line and upcoming sessions. Tickets are typically $15. Doors open at 6:30 PM

With a home on Capitol Hill, Ignite Seattle is also branching out with new connections to strengthen its position as a cultural engine in the city.

“What role does ignite play in the community of Seattle? It’s a stage. It’s a way for people to talk about things they’re passionate about to a pretty large audience,” Zac Cohn, Ignite Seattle’s Speaker Wrangler tells CHS.

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Ignite Seattle announced last month it has partnered with WeWork and The World Is Fun to create more programs, pursue new projects and improve its business and volunteer recruiting process. WeWork, a growing provider of “flexible work spaces,” will be Ignite Seattle’s headlining sponsor for the 2018-19 season and provide funding for “all sorts of crazy projects.” The World Is Fun, a Seattle nonprofit started by Amy Faulkner—who spoke at Ignite #34—will help build a volunteer program and allow Ignite Seattle to accept tax-deductible contributions with its status as a 501(c)3 umbrella fiscal sponsor.

“Every so often we decide it’s time to level the event up a little bit,” Cohn said. “It was difficult for us to invest in the event itself. As we continue look for ways to grow and expand the event, we needed to find a way to have more money to spend but we didn’t want to continue to raise ticket prices. We can keep prices low and make sure its accessible to everyone.”

The speaker list for Thursday’s next session of Ignite Seattle includes speeches on topics from “De-mystifying the Instant Pot” and “Oceans and Robots and Volcanoes, Oh My!” to “A Survival Guide for Black Millennial Singles Mothers Striving to Slay” and a talk titled “Me Too: What it Takes To Come Forward.”

“Our speakers are normal everyday people. They’re not the leading expert in their field or a famous politician,” Cohn said. “You can be in the audience and realize that the people on stage were in the audience last time. It helps the audience see that they can do it, too.”

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