EVENT INNOVATORS 2017

Event Innovators 2017: Charles Melcher

The founder and president of Melcher Media and founder of the Future of Storytelling aims to widen the world of storytelling through events.

By Michele Laufik June 14, 2017, 4:31 AM EDT

Photo: Emily Gilbert

When the recession hit in 2008, Charles Melcher thought he might have to shut down his publishing company. Instead, he decided to dip his toe into the digital waters by creating a companion app to Al Gore’s book Our Choice, which his company, Melcher Media, was publishing. 

Thanks to the award-winning app’s groundbreaking technology (including a breath-controlled windmill), Melcher successfully evolved from an “Old World bookmaker” to selling a software company to Facebook. At that moment, he explains, “We’re no longer in the book business; we’re in the storytelling business.” 

The 52-year-old Yale grad believes that society is on the verge of a huge paradigm shift, similar to mankind’s move from an oral to literate culture. And we’re just beginning to learn how to “read” in the digital sense. 

To help promote collaboration and breakthroughs in this new language, Melcher established the Future of Storytelling Summit in 2012 and, most recently, the Future of Storytelling Festival. The invite-only summit includes a multidisciplinary group of attendees from industries such as technology, media, marketing, and communications. Melcher says he wanted to create a “new kind of community that’s formed by the passion and desire to use technology in new ways.”

In 2016, Melcher debuted the festival or, as he describes it, the summit “on steroids.” Similar in mission, the public fest features interactive exhibits, performances, games, and participatory experiences that widen the world of storytelling. 

This year, the summit and festival will be held back-to-back at the Snug Harbor Cultural Center on Staten Island in New York, starting October 4. In addition to these two tentpole events, the Future of Storytelling has recently begun holding regular monthly gatherings at venues such as the Brooklyn Academy of Music, as well as at events like South by Southwest.

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