I’m tagging many movers and shakers from various communities, event coordinators, festival planners, discussion group organizers, entertainers, and/or vendors because I think this may be beneficial to you from one organizer / entertainer / and vendor to another. However, I realize I may be stepping on the toes of some who don’t agree with my following two cents. I welcome input and dialogue in this forum. If I’m wrong, I would appreciate being enlightened otherwise. It is my thoughts and beliefs, none other, but some thoughts/beliefs shared with others in the community. So its important to understand where some of us are coming from when we don’t support certain events or projects. I apologize in advance if it feels insulting, attacking, or personal, it is not meant as such. Especially the last paragraph. I realize that paragraph is a bit personal to a local event organizer, but it needs to be expressed for the upcoming events are seen as an insult and complete disrespect for many in the local community it is attempting to profit from. Many of these community members have asked me to speak out about it, and I’ve put it off too long.
I’ve been meaning to write this piece for awhile now. There has been a disturbing trend I’ve seen lately where too many “community” based events and organizers have been catching the “knickel and dime to death” virus that Corporate America, its airlines, its businesses, and its government has been initiating in our world since the “Dotcom” crash. (Prior to this point, the world and its corporations thanked their customers, their workers, their patrons, and often gifted them extras or benefits – something that has long since vanished)
I’ve held off on writing and publishing it because right about when I was going to ‘release’ it, a friend of mine, or a community member of mine, was hosting an event where they were showing signs of this virus. But now is the time to write it because instead of being approached with an event that was infected, I was blessed with an event last night that radiated exactly what has seemingly vanished. This event last night, re-established my faith that there are still community organizers out there like me who are NOT profit-driven and a bright example of entities that exist for “their community”. For those of you who are infected with the “greed” virus, I wish you the strength to get over your illness, and while this might be stepping on some of you “profiteering” toes, it needs to be said. Because such actions are “NOT” community. Commercialism does not equate to community. Now don’t get me wrong, it is totally understandable to want to be compensated for your cost, fund-raise for a specific cause, be paid for you art and time – but honestly, if a “profit” intent is your focus, please keep the word “community”, “non profit”, or “not for profit” out of your vocabulary. For those that are not infected with the said virus, I commend you for sticking true to ethics, for the hard work you give to community, and all the work you do for us. You indeed will be rewarded through time. It may not be financial, but I guarantee “goodness” comes back to you when you put it out. Call it Karma or what-have-you.
Last night I attended, and participated as a vendor, in an incredibly successful event that was held by “The Denver Community Collective”. (At least I hope it was successful – they appeared to have great community support, stunning attendance, fabulous entertainment, and most of the people I spoke to afterwards came out with a very empowering rush of community spirit) (Kudos for those of you who were responsible for such an incredible event). This event stated on their web page that it was created with a soul purpose of educating, empowering, and uniting the community through sound, art, love, and knowledge. I would say they were highly successful with that purpose and intent. They also stated that The CommUnity Family believes in only charging you for what the event actually costs, to ensure that more of you can be involved and enjoy this community experience. (this project is not profit driven in any regard, other than staying sustainable). Again, I say KUDOS and Congratulations again to the CommUnity Family. Four floors of entertainment, 5 domes, two stages, three DJ rooms, free water, free vending, free art space. 7 pm until 3 am. Wow. Admission: $14 pre-sale, $17 at the door. A bargain. Thank you for such a wonderful experience last night. I saw an incredible community spirit last night. I was beyond impressed. The entertainers, the artists, the musicians, the community came together to make this happen. It appeared to me to have more than 600 participants. (I’m not aware of the numbers, but the Sherman Center holds 2,000 and the place was pretty packed)
:: Begin Rant ::
From a struggling artist perspective, I was originally attracted to the event for (a) their mission statement and intent, and (b) the free vending as an artist. From an individual who had been a struggling “feast or famine” technogypsie artist travelling around to festivals “trying to make a living” this was like a heaven-send to me. I gave up that lifestyle 6 years ago because I couldn’t make it. Mainly because too many festivals after the .dotcom crash pumped up their vendor fees, knickel and dimed their vendors and entertainment, added on ridiculous rules, regulations, tax permits, licensing, insurance requirements, etc. making a life of a vendor too difficult to live off. So I gave up. I went to work for the Federal Government and a defense contract firm for a steady paycheck. 6 years later, I am now voluntarily leaving a secure job to go back to pursue the struggling artist lifestyle with knowledge of the fears and struggles that lifestyle has. But I have to say, the event last night gave me hope. As a vendor I did make money albeit not much. Had I paid the typical vendor fee that many events charge out there, I would have come out in the negative. I was impressed with CommUnity realizing that this is all-too-often the situation with vendors/artists and is what is collapsing the independent artist from surviving and many from pursuing such inspiration. Kill your art, you kill your entertainment and in many cases, you kill your event’s attractions. You kill the community’s purpose or intent on preserving the arts, culture, folklore, tribal focus, and reason for being there in the first place. Vendors are a festival’s “free information booth”, “guide”, “point of help”, and a draw to one’s attendees and participants. Certainly there is a place for a vendor fee or a commission of sales, but not to where it can destroy that existence of said talent. Honestly how many people would attend a Renaissance Faire without the vendor presence? very few. I’m not quite sure why the vendors who participate in the “worst of the worst” events that prey on vendors like the “Renaissance Faire” circuit does, attending and paying such ridiculous fees, perhaps it is worthwhile to some of the larger well known artists who can make a living from it. But for the small fry, or the “startup from scratch” artist, they don’t have a chance. Imagine if all the Renaissance Faire vendors, artists, and entertainers stood up and held a strike? I guarantee you the corporation behind that institution would drop their fees and plea for them to come back. I’ve been vending for over 10+ years and I to this day will boycott Corporate festivals that prey on the vendor. Usually its a boycott based on ethics, but sometimes even when I believe in the community and its event, it has to do with the cost and the knowledge of knowing I’d come out at a loss.