CPRS Vancouver interviews Darren Barefoot about Fireworks Factory

DbQ: What is Fireworks Factory?

A: We call it Camp David for smart web marketers. It's an intimate, three-day web marketing conference on Galiano Island for mid-level to senior web marketers, running from June 11 to 13.

Q: Why does Vancouver need another marketing conference?
A: Last year, when we first had this idea, I asked a bunch of colleagues and friends if they had ever attended a really great marketing conference in Vancouver. The consensus was that they hadn't.
 
We're creating the event that we want to attend. It's highly influenced by two other events I've been involved with over the years: Northern Voice and Web of Change. We're going to have great speakers, but also plenty of time for community-building and informal conversation. We want to focus on strategy, so that those conversations will be about "how do we market in a post-PC world?" and not "which WordPress plugins are you using?"
 
We also want to develop a trust network among attendees, who can share successes and failures. 
 
Finally, the event is entirely sponsor-free, and we're working hard to avoid the cheesiness and fakery that plagues so many industry events. Is there another event like that in Vancouver? We don't think so.
 
Q: Who is Fireworks Factory for?
A: It's for mid-level to senior web marketers--generally people who make decisions about their organization's web strategy. Thus far, the registered attendees are a mix of for-profit, non-profit, agency and independent consultants.
 
We've got a small, independent selection committee who review each attendee, mostly to evaluate their level of seniority. We were a little reluctant to undertake this approach, but given that it's such a small event--no more than 50 people--we want attendees who have confronted complex, strategic issues. There are, after all, plenty of events for a more general marketing audience.
 
We're asking people who are interested in attending to visit the conference site and nominate themselves and their peers.
 
Attendees are welcome to bring partners and families (though not to the sessions themselves), as June on Galiano Island is hard to pass up.
 
Q: Who is speaking at the conference?
A: We're working with a theme of storytelling for this year's event. Thus far we've got Nora Young, from CBC's Spark; Lee Lefever, author of The Art of Explanation; John Mann, front man of Spirit of the West and a great storyteller and Rob Cottingham, digital strategist and web cartoonist.
 
We've also got our feelers out for a couple of other speakers to round out the roster.
 
Q: Why is it called Fireworks Factory?
A: My wife (also my business partner) and I lived in Malta for a year in 2007, on the small island of Gozo. Each town on Gozo has a week-long religious festival--Malta is the most Catholic nation outside of the Vatican--punctuated by fireworks and pyrotechnics. These explosives were all homegrown, crafted in a community-owned fireworks factory on the edge of town. 
 
Men from the village would spend time there building and testing fireworks, in the hopes of outdoing their rival towns. Occasionally, something horrible would happen and the whole building would explode.
 
Still, they were communal spaces where something risky and breathtaking gets imagined and created. That seemed like a good metaphor for the kind of conference we want to run.

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