Wednesday, August 12, 2009

The time has come, the walrus said.

Well, here it is. The last week.

It's time to pass my work on to everyone else. There's still two months until ArtsFest, and I have to leave everything halfway finished. I don't like that feeling. But, it's gotta be done.

The grant was turned in for AST with a week to spare. Whew. Now, we'll just have to wait and see the result.

I was planning on returning to DC with a new job, resulting from my internship last spring. As it turns out, that's not going to happen. The budget was cut an enourmous amount because Fenty (the DC mayor) had to cut the organization's earmark (a six digit figure). When you work in the arts, this kind of thing happens all the time. Arts are always cut first. But somehow, you never think it will happen to you. But it will, and it did. And it hurts, even though you know it's an inevitable, unavoidable, awful thing.

But, my summer internship has left me with a little encouragement. The city of Conway is growing by leaps and bounds, and so is the arts scene. My office has been in the city's Planning and Development office. Every day I go in to work, employees comes up to me with some story about a creative community seminar they've attended, or pictures of public art they've taken on vacation. They discuss wanting to implement what they've seen and heard. They want more murals downtown, affordable artist studios above downtown businesses, and public art in parks around town. I know, without a doubt, that Conway WILL find the money for these things because city officials understand the value of having arts play a major role in the heart of the city.

"The arts are an even better barometer of what is happening in our world than the stock market or the debates in congress."
-Hendrik Willem Van Loon, The Arts

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

It's the home stretch!

My internships are about to be finished. I feel like I just started! Maybe that's because the more we work on ArtsFest, the more I realize needs to be done. Isn't it funny how that happens? Planning for this year happened very early, so things should be on task. I'm sure they are, and maybe I'm just feeling anxious because I only have a week and a half left.

Before I return to DC, I have to put the info about ArtsFest on online calendars hosted by local tv/radio stations, magazines, and newspapers. Maybe that's why I'm so worried about these last few weeks. Publicity.

Publicity is such a huge part of planning any event. You can book the best acts, serve the best food, etc.,but if no one knows about the event. . .it's a flop. I feel like the events that we have planned this year are bigger and better than years past, but we have GOT to get on the ball with publicizing them. We're on the right track now, but I'll be nervous about when I leave for DC and I'm not here to work on it.

I think that's the most frustrating thing about summer internships. You do all this work, then POOF, you leave. For me, I think it's even worse, because I won't get to see the finished product. I have to leave in a week and a half, yet the festival isn't until October 7-10.


Thursday, July 30, 2009

Episode Seven

No big news this week. I've been working at a youth camp while still trying to keep up with internship activities, so I am EXHAUSTED. The staff only gets about 5 hours of sleep each night, then the next day I have to do camp activities in addition to making phone calls and sending emails about ArtsFest. To make matters worse, it's been raining all week, which just puts me in a bad mood altogether.

Right now, I'm trying to do some pricing for our marketing materials. Who knew flyers, yard signs, stickers could be so expensive? We have a VERY tiny marketing budget. We've been given a grant to help bring several of our bigger acts to Conway, and that means that we're required to do a LOT of marketing to adhere to the grant guidelines. I don't know how we're going to do it all with our budget.

Our grant application for AST is on its last draft, finally. It's due very soon, and we have to make sure to turn it in early, just in case something goes wrong. When you submit grant applications electronically, it's smart to send it early because 90% of the time, your internet poops out on the due date or something else goes wrong. I don't know if I'll have any more projects from AST this summer. But maybe that will be alright, because ArtsFest seems to be taking way more of my internship hours that I had thought!

Monday, July 20, 2009

Running. . .out. . .of. . .time. . .

Wow, so I'm realizing that I have less than a month left at my internships (3 weeks to be exact) and I still have a LOT to do.

For the Arkansas Shakespeare Theatre, we have a grant due in 2 weeks that I'm really concerned about. We still have a lot to work on (i.e., the budget, programming, etc) that needs to be determined by then, and even when that's finished, we have to get signatures on all the documents. I really hope everything gets done. Artists aren't exactly known for being timely. . .

For ArtsFest, I'm still working on securing vendors and downtown merchants to participate in the Art and Music Walk. The Walk is going to stretch for a mile downtown, but there are a lot of gaps where we'll need to find musicians or refreshments to keep people going.

That's a HUGE difference about Arkansas and DC. People in DC are used to walking as an acceptable form of transportation-- Arkansans are not. It's difficult to get most Arkansans to walk or bike even short distances. Granted, things are much farther apart in Conway, Arkansas, but still. We're just not comfortable with the idea of walking a mile when it's quicker to use a car. This will be a big challenge for us, because we're trying to strategically place entertainment in "dull" spots along the route to distract participants from realizing how far they're walking.

Anyway, here's a group that we're bringing in, and I'm really excited about them! They're a dance company that does site-specific choreography. How cool?!

Thursday, July 9, 2009

I now call this meeting to order. . .

My supervisor for CAFTA is out of town this week, so I've been going to meetings without her these past few days. I even had to lead our general ArtsFest planning committee yesterday, which felt very strange. About 95% of the committee members are older than me, so I didn't know how they would react to me leading the meeting.

CAFTA has no paid staff, only board members and community volunteers, so I don't know how they pull off ArtsFest every year! This week alone, I've been to two meetings, and I have two more tonight. Keep in mind, ArtsFest isn't until October. I think they need a full-time staff person to work on ArtsFest, or even part-time! The work is shared by several hard-working volunteers, and just a few really dedicated board members.

Tonight I have a meeting with a bicycling organization here in Conway about planning an architectural scavenger hunt on bicycles during the festival. How cool is that? There are a lot of gorgeous historic homes around downtown Conway, and it would be nice to incorporate some of the beautiful architecture into ArtsFest.

Conway is trying to grow their downtown area, and it's already had great success with another festival called Toad Suck Daze (you may have heard Rep. Vic Snyder talk about it on Colbert).

There's also the Silver Moon Cinema, which shows outdoor movies downtown.

Off to more meetings!

Monday, July 6, 2009

Painting Pachyderm

Not a lot to update on, but one thing that I'm REALLY excited about is that we've secured bringing a really cool work of art down from Pittsburgh for our ArtsFest. And. . . it's a 40 ft. tall Painting Elephant. Yeah, that's right. 40. FEET. TALL. Yowza.

Our internet at City Hall is really sketchy today, and the power keeps going off and on. Maybe the Mayor forgot to pay the electric bill. . .

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

NEA grant

Grantwriting? Yeah, it's frustrating.

I'm in the midst of helping the Artistic Director of AST apply for a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts. Now, the writing part and the gathering of documents part isn't so bad. But, the actual uploading of the attachments and making sure everything is in the correct order is taking soooooooo long. Not to mention that the application has to be turned in two week before it's due because it has to be looked over by the university that houses the AST festival. That means that numerous people have to approve all the information, which will take forever. The more important the person=the longer it takes to get a signature. Hmmm...

With CAFTA, we're getting a lot of things done for ArtsFest! I've been compiling a media list and creating a marketing plan so we can get started publicizing our events. This city has a large Hispanic population, and we're exciting about including this untapped audience!

Something I'm really excited about for this year's festival is the inclusion of some spontaneous performance art. Think ImprovEverywhere, or this:

New ArtsFest website, too!