Friday, May 04, 2007

Hometown Frustration

Below is an article from the Buffalo News on-line. I am very frustrated with my hometown right now, here's why:

Article Title: Music Is Art is moving from Allentown to America's Fair

By Tom Buckham - News Staff Reporter
Updated: 05/02/07 7:45 AM

The Music Is Art Festival is packing up guitars, drums and amplifiers and moving to America’s Fair in the Town of Hamburg, ending an uneasy four-year coexistence with the Allentown Art Festival.

Robbie Takac, the Goo Goo Dolls bassist who founded the festival as a platform for local musicians, said Tuesday the decision to change venues and dates was made after city officials indicated that no permit would be forthcoming for this year’s event.

In a series of City Hall meetings, “It became evident that the forces who were helping us achieve our goals in Allentown weren’t necessarily going to be there to help us this time,” Takac said.

So instead of shaking exhibitors’ tents during the two-day art festival in June, the music event featuring local bands will take place Aug. 11, the third day of the 10-day county fair.

Whether a permit would have been issued is moot because Music Is Art did not apply for one, said Peter Cutler, spokesman for Mayor Byron W. Brown. “We would have reviewed them like everyone else.”

However, Cutler and Sue Gonzalez, the city’s director of special events, admitted Takac was urged to seek another site for his festival, which since 2003 has been staged near the guitarist’s Franklin Street recording studio — just outside the art festival boundary.

The relationship between festival organizers was testy from the outset.

“A fine art festival does not have music,” Mary M. Myskiewicz, president of the Allentown Village Society, complained after Music Is Art was granted a city permit in 2003. “We’re trying to protect an art festival that has a national reputation.”

With the nation’s largest outdoor art festival due to celebrate its 50th year with an expanded program June 9-10, “we started to look for other options for Music Is Art,” Gonzalez said. But Takac’s father, Bob, called March 19 to inform her that a deal had been struck with the fair.

America’s Fair “has been incredibly accommodating,” Takac said, “as opposed to Allentown, which was confrontational from the beginning.”

“We’ll be able to reach a huge crowd that we weren’t able to reach before — people who do not customarily come out to an art show,” he said.

The one-day music festival will be staged near the Agricenter inside Gate 4, “starting at 9 a.m. with the usual insanity and running straight through until the gates close,” Takac said. Forty bands will play.

“It breaks my heart not to be able to carry on the tradition I started in Allentown,” Takac said. “I didn’t want to lose my neighborhood. At the same time, this is the absolute best of scenarios.”

My response:
Dear Tom,
I just read your article on the "Music is Art Festival" and felt the need to share some thoughts. Having no place else to express them, I am writing to you.
What an absolute shame that the "Music is Art" festival was taken out of the Allentown Art Festival. As a WNY native, an Allentown home owner, a practicing visual artist and an adjunct Professor of visual art now living in Washington, DC, I was saddened by this news. I am very active in the DC art community, and have been involved in many events incorporating art and music. The quote from Mary M. Myskiewicz, that “A fine art festival does not have music,” , shows a very closed minded and quite frankly provincial view of art. Why not have music?? This is the kind of mindset that will keep Buffalo from moving forward. Has this woman not noticed Hallwalls and Ana Difranco's place; all the wonderful cutting edge, progressive "artists" of differing media and genres that are right in her own backyard? When she states, “We’re trying to protect an art festival that has a national reputation.” I have to question what that reputation actually is. The Allentown Art Festival is a wonderful event, but that's not to say there isn't room for progress. Keeping the festival a stuffy, narrow minded little venue full of fluff will not, in the long run, be the the best thing for Allentown or Buffalo.

(Those of you who have been long time Allen Town Art fest visitors know exactly what I'm talking about!) Ugh.
Here's a guy from WNY who has become wildly successful (Goo Goo Dolls) and wants to give back to his neighborhood. I have attended all of the last "Music as Art" festivals at Allentown and can say that it ADDED to the excitement, ecclectic nature and cultural richness of the outdoor venue. It is most certainly a loss to the event.


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