Saturday, August 01, 2009

Your turn

Hi, I'm the guy who started this blog five festivals back, and who tries to keep it going every year. At this point, it's pretty much my main contribution to the festivities. There seems to be a weird vibe around the edges of the blog this year, and I thought it might be useful to address that, in the spirit of free expression that makes the Infringement Festival such a wondrous and special thing.

I started the blog one afternoon midway through the first festival because, particularly in that first year, Infringement was truly "under the radar" of most of the city, along with the vast majority of artists included in it--folks who didn't stand much of a chance of getting a positive or negative review in Artvoice or the News--and I wanted there to be as many ways as possible for potential audience members to find out about shows. That's still my goal. Word of mouth remains the best, but every avenue helps. The more public, the better.

From the very beginning, I encouraged other people to post their opinions of shows here. I never wanted it to be all my voice, all the time. For the record, there are 27 people authorized to start a post at this very minute. (This matter of "authorization" is Blogger's idea and wording, not mine, btw.) Many of them joined to plug their own show (which is cool) and then dropped out of sight. As the little text in the upper left has suggested from pretty much the get-go, if you want to be #28, just send an email and we'll add ya. If you don't plan to write very often, you can always just add a comment to an existing post.

My posts in the first two or three years were so relentlessly positive I felt at times like a PR guy or a cheerleader; so much so that when another writer started posting here, she actually asked if it was okay to write less than glowing remarks about a show. (I, and everybody else around at the time, said "sure!," and the writing immediately got a lot more lively and less Chamber-of-Commerce-y.) On the other hand, I loved pretty much everything I saw in the festival in those days, and I still do. But it occurred to me even then that those of us who contribute to this thing are not really doing a service to the audience, or the artists, if we don't speak honestly and openly about what we like--and what we don't like, on the rare occasions when that happens. At five years old, with an almost entirely new crew of dedicated young organizers working year-round (who are always looking for new volunteers, hint hint), Infringement ought to be sturdy enough to withstand constructive criticism. An arts community that lacks the ability to discuss the good and the bad alike--as subjective as those distinctions may be--is not allowing itself a chance to evolve and grow.

I take this arts community, this festival, and this admittedly self-appointed job of writing about it every night for 11 days when I come home, seriously. If you know me personally, you know I'm not one to take potshots. If you don't know me, you may be among the handful who now seem to think I get off on attacking other people and/or venues. Despite the fact that i've continued to write glowing remarks about almost everything I've attended this year (and intend to do so again, for the last 2 days of the 09 festival), I seem to be striking some readers as a close-minded hater of ... well, whatever it is that they liked more than I did.

Maybe this is just the nature of the internet--after all, the first 4 years of the blog yielded very few reader comments, so it's personally rewarding to see that suddenly people actually read it and care enough to talk back to the guy saying all these apparently horrible hateful things about everyone. That's democracy in action.

I'm not presenting my opinion as the only one or the best one. As I see it, I don't have the last word, I have the first word in what will hopefully be an ongoing discussion.

OK, your turn.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Are you just now figuring out why people strongly dislike you?

You're doing so well Ron, one reply so far...