Why Create a Modest Live Looping Festival Where You Live

A good friend of mine wrote that he was not sure about creating a small live looping festival
this coming summer to coordinate with the other Y2K13 Loopfestivals that will be occurring
in Europe, the UK and Southeast Asia.     He was not sure if people would come to the festival
or if he could raise enough money to help with artists’ transportation fees or eve if he’d be able
house any of the artists coming.  He felt bad about asking people to come from so far away
without much support.

Here’s what I wrote back to him and why I realize that I’ve put so much of my life’s energy
in the past 13 years into producing live looping festivals,  traveling to play them (frequently
at a loss) and trying to promote the live looping community.

Dear ______,I hear all of your concerns about producing a live looping festival _______ this summer/fall. Trust me, I relate to everything you wrote about,  however:

You should know that I almost never have been able to pay the artists who come from as far as 6,000 miles  to perform at the big main festival in Santa Cruz.    I try to get enough donations each year to provide some money for one of the headliners but I didn’t even  have enough this year to do that.

I try to do everything I can for artists who come from far away because I respect their commitment so much (and because I’ve been in their shoes many times, myself).    But if I could provide nothing  for them,  I’d still try to produce these festivals.

I think the reason why is that we all do this  because it makes life a lot more fun.   We inspire each other and get to have friendships that span thousands of miles. Some of the best experiences of my entire life have been in performing at live looping festivals or

in hosting the artists that our whole community has hosted here in Santa Cruz, San Jose,
and San Francisco.Personally,  if I have any extra money,  I’d rather go play a loop festival than take a normal vacation.  I think a lot of people are like that not to mention the fact that commiting to perform at a festival (or a whole summer of festivals) really ramps

up one’s artistry to an entire new level.   It’s helped me grow, immeasurably as
an artist.    I’ve also had so many different artists tell me that it changed their life
to be involved in the looping festival that we put on here.   That’s powerful stuff!So, when I run the huge Santa Cruz Main Festival (up to 70 artists from 17 countries in 6 days in 3 cities) I try hard to provide as much publicity as possible and to  put up as many artists as I can so that they don’t have to pay hotel costs and then, everyone else is on their own and I try to let go when there are things I can’t provide for people.

So,  I say,   throw a Looping Festival where you live this summer if you have the energy for it and don’t worry about the likelihood that you won’t be able to raise enough money through donations, grants or even the door take at the event to pay the  artists  and create an event that you and everyone will remember all of your lives.

You can almost always find a struggling gallery, music venue,  coffee shop,  museum,  very large home of a wealthy patron of the arts to throw such and even so that you don’t have to rent it.

Then you can find lots of people in the community to lend you a sound system for the night, just because people want to be part of something.   Then you can find a handful of people to volunteer to take the door;  to load in and out; to clean the place;  to put artists up in their homes.

During the 10th anniversary here,  we placed 29 artists in one half a block of my neighborhood and now my neighbors are in love with all the exciting and intelligent foreign artists who come here.
They ask ME when they can put more artists up for the next festival.

It’s all about vibe………..it’s all about creating special experiences and pushing artistry forward, despite the fact that we appear to be heading into the ‘Dark Ages’ of Art again in Western Culture (perhaps even in the world).

I think of us as those steadfact Irish monks who protected the knowldedge and writings of the Greeks for hundreds of years because it was not safe to let it out to the powers that were in the Church.

We need to do art even if it means doing art for ONLY arts’ sake.

As they said in the film, Field of Dreams, “If you build it, they will come”

So I say ” Do it!”   And I’ll try to get there if at all possible using some other means of financial support and I’ll bet you others will, too.

most sincerely, and thanks for all of your thought and energy,
Rick Walker