Wednesday, June 9, 2010
Oh, I know, Let's have a Festival!
I suppose if I’d had even an spare half an hour over the last three weeks, I’d have stopped and posted a blog entry or two- just to keep everyone informed and up-to-date… but believe me- I did not have that half hour anywhere…
The Arts and Music Festival for 2010 is just a pleasant memory for most folks here… I’m still zooming around and making sure that storage is good for all of the signs and other ‘festival properties’ and answering emails from officials and phone calls from media. That is dwindling off now and we are working like maniacs to make the transition to driving across country to Lopez.
Well, actually, I guess we did… at the beginning of it all was about 5 (completely unexpected) months of really insane Politics- shall we call it the politics of transition?; maybe the politics of allowing?- that devoured all of the luxury of time that we thought we had to plan and build and dream this to fruition. In the end we pulled the whole thing together in about 100 days.
We had to start with the name of the festival, (the Lower Town Arts and Music Festival), and really little else… the city office that had been in charge of the festival for the last 7 years was unable (or unwilling?) to give us any of the contacts for the services they used or the Artists that had participated. They did not have a budget to share of what they spent money on at the last festival, which would have given us clues about where the money went. Amazingly, after producing this festival for years, they didn’t have a single bit of ‘management product’ to pass forward. Not to worry.
Over the next few months we discovered that there were a lot of folks, in and around town, that were heavily invested in the festival either not existing any longer, or existing in a very specific way that conformed to their singular vision.
We went ahead and held brainstorming sessions with anyone invited to participate- we wrote down all of the ideas of what people would like to see at a festival in the neighborhood and did not allow any pre-filtering nay-sayers to shoot ideas down. We took all of these ideas and developed a huge (15 page) on-line survey that allowed anyone in the neighborhood to vote on all of the ideas and rate them. We discovered, in that process, that there were a few folks who had decided to be actively opposed to anything happening. (Didn’t see that coming).
At this point the City group that was thrusting the festival toward us was given a small budget enhancement and now wanted the festival back… oops.
They even went so far as to say the Lower Town Neighborhood Association couldn’t use the name Lower Town Arts and Music Festival because they (the city office in charge of promoting Lower Town and Downtown) had it under copyright… that was too silly and the Mayor shut the down in a heartbeat.
Then the good stuff… the business community- the Bank, The TV Station and Paper, the Railroad, the Car Dealers, the bridge builders- all chipped in and supported the regime change for the festival. People stepped up into the leadership roles for each of the different volunteer positions (organizational heads). Even the City, as represented by all of the department heads with their various clipboards, created a harmony hitherough unheard of in a public event. It was FANTASTIC and the show has even happened yet!
So, Stef and I are running, running, running and then… it’s the day of and all comes together- certainly with excitement and thrilling moments of WTF! But no killer problems and… everyone seems happy… shhh… walk softly… don’t disturb it… everyone is happy!
I mean WOW!
And here it is a couple of weeks later and still… everyone is happy!