Museum PR Announcements News and Information

New Museum announce IDEAS CITY Conference Exploring Untapped Capital in Cities

The New Museum and the Executive Committee of IDEAS CITY are pleased to announce the full line-up of participants for the IDEAS CITY Conference, which kicks off the four-day Festival (May 1–4) in downtown Manhattan. IDEAS CITY was founded in 2011 by the New Museum, New York, as an unprecedented collaborative initiative that involves hundreds of arts, education, and community organizations in an ongoing, multi-platform discussion on the future of cities around the globe. Guided by the belief that arts and culture are essential to the continued health and vitality of urban centers everywhere, IDEAS CITY partners work together to exchange ideas, propose solutions, share with the public, and effect change. The IDEAS CITY Festival (May 1–4) includes a major Conference, participatory Workshops, an innovative StreetFest, and more than one hundred independent Projects and public events.

IDEAS CITY Conference“The New Museum strongly believes that the cultural community is essential to the vitality of the future city,” said Lisa Phillips, Toby Devan Lewis Director, New Museum. “We also believe that the cultural sphere is still a relatively untapped source of enormously powerful creative capital, especially in its potential to foster greater innovation in other fields and stimulate economic development. The IDEAS CITY initiative is an unprecedented step in expanding both our institution’s mission and its potential as a community hub, drawing the creative population together as agents for change.”

The IDEAS CITY Conference (May 1–2) is dedicated to the exploration of Untapped Capital, the overarching theme of IDEAS CITY, examining under-recognized and underutilized resources that can be harnessed as catalysts for change. It will focus on four areas where untapped capital can be found and put to productive use: Ad Hoc Strategies, Waste, Play, and Youth.

The Conference commences with a keynote address by Joi Ito, Director of MIT Media Lab, and culminates with a major Mayors Panel, which previously drew a standing-room-only audience. The IDEAS CITY Conference takes place at the Great Hall at Cooper Union.

Tickets for each event may be purchased at: An IDEAS CITY Festival Conference Pass, guaranteeing entry to all events from May 1–2, is available. A livestream of the Conference will be on the IDEAS CITY website:

Wednesday May 1, 7:30pm
IDEAS CITY Conference: keynote address by Joi Ito
Great Hall, Cooper Union
Joi Ito is a leading technologist, creative entrepreneur, and thinker on innovation and global technology policy. Ito is the Director of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Media Lab—the innovation center that brought us the technologies behind Amazon’s Kindle and Activision’s Guitar Hero games. He was a part of the foundation of Japan’s first Internet service provider and today maintains his role as a leader both in investment and online creativity as the founder of Neoteny Labs. He has authored and co-authored a number of books including Dialog—Ryu Murakami X Joichi Ito with Ryu Murakami, and Freesouls: Captured and Released with Christopher Adams, a book of Ito’s photographs that includes essays by several prominent figures in the free culture movement. He will examine the untapped capital of the internet as it continues to transform society in substantial and positive ways.

Thursday May 2
IDEAS CITY Conference: Youth, Play, Waste, Ad Hoc Strategies, and Mayors Panel
Great Hall, Cooper Union

Ad Hoc Strategies
This panel will investigate how the maximum expression of design today is in the processes, open systems, and tools that shape society by enabling self-organization, platforms of collaboration, and decentralized networks of production.

Panelists: Jeffrey Inaba, Emeka Okafor, Thaddeus Pawlowski, Jennifer Wolfe, and J. Meejin Yoon; Moderator: Joseph Grima

A group of individuals, whose experiences combine analysis, public policy, activism, art, and architecture, will discuss these and other issues as they consider the future of waste.

Panelists: Mai Iskander, Lydia Kallipoliti, Max Liboiron, and Samantha MacBride; Moderator: Jonathan F.P. Rose

The city itself has long been conceptualized as a “playground,” and play is an inescapable part of our current cities, which are a hybrid of physical and electronic spaces. How can play and gaming assist us in reimagining and cocreating urban environments, foster deeper engagement, propel education, and provide solutions to urban problems?

Panelists: Kemi Ilesanmi, Charles Renfro, Constance Steinkuehler, and Eric Zimmerman

Youth is a vast global neighborhood replete with its own government, social networks, and modes of learning. Mentors and innovators discuss youth as Untapped Capital, focusing on the incredible capacity of today’s youth as innovators for change.

Panelists: Naomi Hirabayashi, Barry McGee, Carlos Motta, and Ellin O’Leary; Moderator: Dennis Scholl

Mayors Panel: The City and Untapped Capital
For some cities, Untapped Capital might be neighborhoods; for others, the arts. Governmental efficiency and green power offer reserves of untapped capital, while “downtown” revitalization and transit expansion may have proven less stable resources. How does a city’s history become untapped capital and how deeply is a city’s identity tied to its resilience? The mayors will cite specific examples of their utilization of untapped capital from their tenures while also considering the context of their cities within a larger national and international framework.

Moderated by: Kurt Andersen, writer, host/cocreator of Studio360, the Peabody Award–winning radio program, and cofounder of the legendary Spy magazine. Andersen also moderated the inaugural Mayors Panel in 2011.

Manuel (Manny) Diaz served as mayor of Miami from 2001–09. During his tenure, Diaz re-engineered the city’s government and developed the vision of Miami as an international city. His innovative programs included such areas as urban design, sustainability, and infrastructure investment. He is author of the upcoming book Miami Transformed: Rebuilding America One Neighborhood, One City at a Time.

Christophe Girard served as deputy mayor of Paris in charge of culture from 2001–12. During his term, he created such memorable initiatives as the annual “Nuit Blanche” celebration. In 2012, Girard became mayor of the 4th District of Paris. He is the former CEO for Yves Saint Laurent and Director of Strategy for LVMH.

Jim Gray is the current mayor of Lexington, Kentucky. As former CEO of one of the nation’s top ten builders of manufacturing facilities, he brings a business paradigm to city government. He is also redefining downtown Lexington as an arts and cultural district, and established a partnership with the mayor of Louisville to create a manufacturing and technology super region.

Bill Purcell is the former mayor of Nashville, Tennessee (1999–2007). He oversaw the city’s unprecedented economic expansion. During his tenure, Nashville was ranked the number one city for corporate headquarters and twice ranked as the hottest city in America for expansion and business relocation. He was also Director of the Institute of Politics at Harvard University for a stint.

Will Wynn was elected the fiftieth mayor of Austin, Texas, in 2003, and served two terms. With an academic background in environmental design, Wynn’s climate protection plan for Austin is one of the country’s most aggressive for reducing greenhouse gases. In addition to a successful plan for transformative change in downtown Austin, Wynn also nurtured the city’s creative community with the Keep Austin Weird initiative.

For more information about the Conference on May 1–2 and participatory Workshops on May 3, visit

Members of the Executive Committee for IDEAS CITY are the New Museum (founder), the Architectural League of New York, Bowery Poetry Club, Cooper Union, The Drawing Center, New York University Wagner School, and Storefront for Art and Architecture.

Founding support for IDEAS CITY: New York is provided by a generous grant from Goldman Sachs Gives made at the recommendation of David B. Heller & Hermine Riegerl Heller.

Lead sponsor is Audi Urban Future Initiative.

Lead supporter is the Rockefeller Foundation. Producing sponsors are Brookfield and Lonti Ebers.

IDEAS CITY is also made possible by a grant from the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature, and a grant from the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation, which is funded through Community Development Block Grants from the US Department of Housing and Urban Development. Special thanks to Andrew M. Cuomo, Governor, and Michael R. Bloomberg, Mayor.

New York City