On Wednesday, Sept. 7, Venture Connectors featured Theo Edmonds, co-founder of the Louisville-based innovation company and cultural think tank IDEAS xLab, who shared how he and his team use a cultural production framework to impact the health and economic vitality of communities both locally and on a global scale.
Years of experience and research have led the team at IDEAS xLab to spearhead national and international investments in health equity and other innovative programming right here in Louisville. The financial impact of health equity is profound, from the cost of health care to the opportunities that abound in creating businesses to support it.
Edmonds talked about what works, how to get started and how IDEAS xLab’s initiatives are transforming the way people think about growing healthy cities and healthy citizens. In his talk, Edmonds offered actionable, proven steps to making health equity a reality in Louisville, as well as how it can have a significant, positive impact on our economy.
IDEAS xLab’s work has been supported by The Educational Foundation of America, the National Endowment for the Arts, ArtPlace America, the Pew Charitable Trust, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and others.
Born in Appalachia, Edmonds earned a bachelor’s degree in theater from Transylvania University, a juris doctorate and master’s of health administration from Tulane University and master’s of fine arts-art studio degree from the University of Kentucky. While still in his 20s, he became administrator of one of the most respected heart and vascular programs in the South and went on to lead the heart and vascular development strategies of two of the best-known health systems in America.
Edmonds co-founded IDEAS xLab in 2012. In 2015, he co-founded Creative Agents of Change Foundation to train and incubate artists and other cultural producers as change makers in the health sector. His pioneering work at the intersection of cultural and health equity has led to a growing national profile as one of the South’s most innovative social entrepreneurs.
Named by Southern Living Magazine as one of “50 People Changing the South in 2015,” Edmonds is currently a Leadership Louisville Center Bingham Fellow, a commissioner on Louisville Metro Government’s Commission on Public Art and a board member of the national Private Sector Council of Americans for the Arts.