Why Grandin?

A Change of Venue for (X)po 2016: Why (X)po Leadership Picked the Grandin Theatre

For the first time ever, CityWorks(X)po is being held at a different venue. Traditionally, (X)po was hosted at one of the most historically significant, beautifully outfitted venues in town: Charter Hall. During (X)po 2015, a trend emerged. Ian Fortier, (X)po ’15 speaker, noted that “The Grandin Village was mentioned at least eight times by people talking about community development and place.” He mentioned that it was the subject of at least two talks. He then said, “why not bring it to the Village this year? I know just the place.”

And so the planning of (X)po 2016 began. Ian is the executive director of the Grandin Theatre Foundation, the nonprofit organization that was formed to re-open the Historic Grandin Theatre after it closed for a third time, suffering from financial stress. Currently, the foundation’s mission is to “preserve the historic Grandin Theatre as a cultural and educational resource devoted to film and the cinematic arts for Western Virginia,” which Ian lives and breathes daily by his dedication to innovative collaborations and programs.

Ed Walker, founder of (X)po, was one of the leaders of the “Save the Grandin” campaign and renovation project. These efforts raised enough money and support that the theatre was able to reopen in 2002. Walker is also the founder of CityWorks (X)po and his original plan has stayed consistent throughout: host an idea exchange celebrating Big Ideas for Better Places in Roanoke, Virginia.

This is the 6th annual (X)po, and the marriage of these two organizations is intentional. Through Walker’s visionary leadership, both the Grandin Theatre and CityWorks (X)po are available to our community today. This space represents so much more than a movie theatre, and is the perfect place to host (X)po as it begins its next chapter under the leadership of the CoLab, a community innovation center located across the street from the Theatre.

The CoLab was announced at (X)po 2014 as a collaborative experiment between Walker and Samantha Steidle and has grown into a robust organization since. A year after hiring Ariel Lev as Director of the CoLab, Walker announced that the CoLab would be taking the reigns and planning the 6th CityWorks (X)po.

These connections perfectly encapsulate the spirit of (X)po. Through years of high-impact idea exchange among 300+ diverse and talented individuals, amazing things have happened. This is just one story. We can’t wait to hear yours!