BARCELONA, SPAIN More than 200 planners from 14 countries gathered at the Hesperia Tower hotel in Barcelona June 21 to 23 for the Fresh Conference, an event hosted by the Meeting Design Institute to demonstrate the latest tools and knowledge to creative effective meetings and events. The theme for this year’s conference was “Art and Inspiration,” and the program incorporated a variety of activities involving painting, dance, music, comedy, and more.
“As a meeting architect you have to be open to using all kinds of tools. Art is part of that menu, and the whole goal of Fresh is to demonstrate and experiment so people can take things back for their conferences,” said Maarten Vanneste, president of the Meeting Design Institute.
More Balls Than Most, an entertainment and meeting facilitation company based in the Netherlands, brought more than 100 pounds of clay to the conference and invited attendees to create small sculptures. The individual sculptures were then combined into one large display to demonstrate how people can work together to create art. The company also led sessions on incorporating music and juggling into meetings. Another activity invited attendees to paint large opaque glass panels that formed the backdrop on the main stage. And rather than a traditional closing session at the end of each day, Vanneste used comedians to provide a summary of the content in the style of a stand-up performance. “I think it was interesting for planners to see that this is possible,” he said. “The art segment is fun; it’s cool, it’s beautiful. Everybody was happy and feeling good and smiling, and I think art is part of that.”