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Old 06-14-11, 02:10 PM   #1
Doctor Eric
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Default Need help planning a festival

Hey all.... long time no see, for quite a few of you. Most of you know me, so let me lay it out.

As a lot of you know, I got involved with a fight with the Port of San Francisco, over their busking permitting system, which effectively destroyed circle shows at the wharf. I fought, and I fought, and I fought, and as much as it pains me to say so, I lost, badly. That's the short intro, don't worry, it's over now.

Here's the thing. San Francisco would be an EXCELLENT site for an international busker's fest. It used to be one of the heart and souls of smart, edgy, progressive, groundbreaking street performers. The city is FILLED with tourists from all over the globe, that come there to be a part of something special. They can be the greatest crowds you've ever experienced. They're smart, discerning, diverse, and they have a lot of money.

I have been wanting to organize a festival there for the last couple years, but there have been two things holding me back. Number one, I don't have any idea how to organize a festival, or where to even start. Number two, after my fight witht he city, losing my fiance, losing my mind, going into therapy for C-PTSD, and then trying to put my life back together... I was in NO position to take on anything like that. Well, reason number two is out of the way now. My life is back together. So back to reason one. Don't get me wrong, I know how to organize THINGS, I booked 5 U.S. tours without a show, a plan, or a clue. It never should have worked, but it did. I have no problem getting on the phone, making things happen, but like I said, with a street festival, I don't even know where to start. (Do you get the permits first, or the vendors, what?). I know that there are plenty of people here that have done this sort of thing. I know that once I put it in motion, even if I screwed up and booked it at the slowest time of year in SF, there would be PLENTY of punters to go around. I know I can get the acts. I just need a little help putting together a time line and and outline of what needs to be taken care of.

I knwo there are quite a few festival organizers posting and/or lurking around here, are there any current, or former organizers that would be willing to have maybe an hour skype chat with me, help me put a plan to paper?

Thanks guys. Oh, and Jim, I wasn't sure where to put this thread, if you think it belongs somewhere other than "Blah blah blah..." feel free to move it, I just knew this would be the safest place to plop it down.

Good to see you guys again

ec
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Old 06-14-11, 04:55 PM   #2
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Maybe ask the folks in Denver that put that one on? Maybe they'll do one there for you guys?
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Old 06-14-11, 08:10 PM   #3
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Hey, call me, I can talk you through this.

PM'd.

A
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Old 06-15-11, 02:29 AM   #4
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skype me anytime dr eric and I will let you know the crumbs of the festival organisation biskits I know no worries,,
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Old 06-21-11, 07:21 PM   #5
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Hey Eric,

Email me, funny enough, this conversation just happened between another act and I and I think we are all in agreement that S.F. can and should have something.

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Old 06-24-11, 09:07 PM   #6
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I'll film it on stiltcam

and I'll write kinder than this

http://winsomesrevenge.blogspot.com/...-festival.html
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Old 07-15-11, 01:02 AM   #7
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Do it Eric! I'll back you up
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Old 07-25-11, 04:21 PM   #8
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Hey Eric, fancy seeing you here (as if...)

Anyhow, I think what you're asking for is very tricky because it's too easy for such a thing to go corporate. You just know that Oracle or Apple or God help us, Google or Facebook would want to sponsor such a thing, and they're going to want to block off the streets to people who want to busk but don't want to jump through hoops to participate in the event.

I guess I'm just wary of festivals, seeing how easily they become corporatized when the bloodhounds smell the tourist money.

I'm also wary of festivals of any sort because they tend to kill the business for individual day-to-day events. I know lots of music promoters, for instance, who have been ruined by the music festivals. People are staying away from the clubs because they don't want to pay $7 for 2 bands when they can pay $40 to see 10 or 20. And in those festivals only the headliners make the money; the rest are either given token money or perform for nothing for "exposure".

Now, I know a busker festival is not a music festival, and SF is filled with tourists, but a busker festival could kill venues far and wide while it's going on. Tourists who might otherwise go to Cafe Trieste to hear the staff sing opera or go to Grant & Green to hear a band would likely consider themselves "filled up" with entertainment and not go at all.

I'm not throwing cold water on the idea, just trying to get all the points out into the open.

So, if you could talk about your ideas/ideals a bit more, that would help.
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Old 07-28-11, 12:45 AM   #9
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Hi David. All of your posts have been about the evilness of festivals. Did a festival abuse you as a child?
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Old 07-28-11, 02:29 PM   #10
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Default Evil Festivals

Heh...no...well maybe. It's just that as someone who has put on over 400 live music shows these past 12 years I've seen audiences dry up. When I've talked with other promoters and with people I no longer see at shows, the conclusion seemed to be that people were going to festivals *instead* of going to regular club shows.

For instance, in SF we have not one but two bluegrass festivals, a jazz festival that has events all year, a blues festival, reggae, R&B, 8 or 10 film festivals (SF, silent, gay, tranny, shorts, experimental, video, and a couple other general festivals), and every neighborhood has at least one street festival. (SF's South of Market has no fewer than 3 leather kink festivals.)

The movie festival is a good example. Gary Meyer, co-founder of Landmark Theaters, is giving up SF's Balboa Theater, which he as run for zero money these past 10 years. He is too busy running the Teluride film festival and he can't get consistent audiences to the Balboa. The Red Vic moviehouse has just shut down for lack of business. The Roxie nearly went under and just applied for a beer & wine license to stay in business. The world famous Castro Theatre is dark 2 nights a week -- but thrives when the SF Film Festival is on. And this is the situation -- people go to film festivals but they avoid all but the blockbuster movies during the conventional runs. The film festivals meanwhile have *massive* attendance.

Now none of these is a busker festival, and I know they're different. But what makes them so different after all? With a festival you have a promoter trying to round up all the good stuff and package it in order to make a bundle of money. With music festivals, such as Coachella, the promoters will pay big money for a few big acts and basically stiff the other acts, who are more than willing to play for free or cheap for "exposure".

Is a busker festival any different? A promoter comes in and wants to make boatload of money and winds up stiffing the performers either intentionally or not. And if they don't stiff the performers, the performers don't exactly do as well in a mass of other performers than they'd do by themselves on any given weekend.

Now, if you're responding to Eric's festival proposal, I'm still very willing to open my ears. I personally know and respect Eric. And knowing him he is likely to have some kind of unusual twist that could make a busker festival work and not harm anybody.

--dk
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Old 07-29-11, 03:21 AM   #11
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you want a buskers festival to make a profit you are looking at least at a couple of years of losses before you do so.



The alternative is to ride on the shirt-tails of sponsors and make your profit there. Inflate your operational budget and skim.

It's an entirely different beast from a set venue. You don't have door-sales, you don't have ticket sales at all. You build a brand and have the local community adopt it as their own. It's cheap entertainment in that respect.

Obviously any commercial market is competitive, even non commercial or non profit is competitive. The idea that any status quo should be maintained out of sympathy for other business concerns is just silly. A venue or festival stands on it's own merits. The market is fickle and everchanging and harking back to the good old days, even if they were a year or two back is unproductive.

Street theatre festivals have certain disadvantages for immediate cashflow, they are not rent-a-room propositions. But they have advantages that come with their community inclusive and their colonizing of public space natures.

They are, or can be , highly attractive to businesses that wish to promote their own inclusive and innovative brands. It used to be local sponsors would foot the bill for the creation of some local annual event that put their name up at the forefront of a feelgood, high impact, innovative spectacle that itself became a media magnetic event with flow-on, if short-lived, exposure for the sponsors. Plus it can be shown that the overall coverage both in media and with foot-traffic is, or can be, quite efficient use of marketing and branding budgets.

Another advantage Street performance festivals have in the states is that they are rare and yet many models exist internationally to be adapted. Another advantage is the spectacle and innovation is easy to 'hook' media with.

But I think the most advantageous element of all is that new technologies now exist and the businesses that promote them are all vying for critical market share on not a local but a global market that would enable a festival with the right spectacular blend to be broadcast online either in realtime or in staggered increments with the use of technicians but also possibly users of those products.

Combine smartphones with mapping with internet and you have this
http://www.ted.com/talks/view/lang/eng//id/766

It's just a matter of time before someone designs a festival that is bigger online than it is at its productive venue.

The value of that to any major tech company that wanted to help produce it would IMO exceed any piddling doorsale total. And employ a significant amount of people.

The status quo or recent history in regards events is irrelevant, it's all diminishing returns from a shrinking disposible incomed base anyway.

Some well crafted and cast international public, multi-tiered spectacle that involved some significant large [probably european] large scale street-theatre as well as installations and smaller events that could be visited by the internet either -a-la ted, in stages, or with further production, live and multi-inputted.

Well that's my thought for the day.
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Old 08-12-11, 09:03 AM   #12
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I just did Victoria BC International BuskerFest -that was very well organised, with several stages, printed scedules (which were for sale for 2$), T-shirts (20$ in the beginning, and 10$ on the last day - I guess they did not sell too much). They even had a grandstand for the main stage. But they did not pay performers, did not even give us housing! (I got lucky and got invited by a volunteer to stay with her). They had food vendors and crafters who paid the rent for vending booths. They had some corporate sponsors + the city of Victoria and tourist board/harbourfront, and hopefully they will get more sponsors after the first year - and may be start paying the buskers...I am sure you can contact the management and ask about their experience - they are really nice people and worked really hard for it, and there were tonns of volunteers helping out...
I think it would be also awesome to have a BuskerFest in New Orleansl in November or during X-Mas season - it's really good weather, but nothing major is happening between Halloween and New Year...
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Old 08-12-11, 09:19 AM   #13
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Victoria was very well organized and the performers working the pitches did have accommodations at Victoria.
I am not sure about other acts like Irina or others that were not on the performance pitches.
The people of Victoria were great and audiences were very kind and generous.
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Old 08-13-11, 12:39 AM   #14
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Thanks, Greg - I agree. Victoria was fantastic, and the performers who were on the main pitches were well-taken-care-of. If anyone's planning to apply for next year, I'd highly recommend it. The festival ran like a multi-year festival, not like a first year event at all! Great volunteers, sound at every pitch, good public awareness and press. Professional and profitable.
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Old 08-13-11, 08:06 PM   #15
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Hey, yall, who won the 1000$ prize for the best show in Victoria? I am sorry, I did not stay for the closing party, it was running late and I had another party to attend...
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Old 08-13-11, 09:30 PM   #16
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Victor Rubilar was voted Audience Choice, and Aerial Angels were runner-up - I know Bendy Em and Flame Oz were in the top five, but I don't recall the order.
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Old 08-13-11, 09:51 PM   #17
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Victor is totally cool, but I thought it would be either Ariel Angels or Flame OZ - you guys were really awesome!
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