Looking at WNY’s visual art, theater, music, and dance scenes.
Jun 22, 2012
08:00 AMTalk about Arts
Music is Art returns “home”
The Music is Art Festival cannot be contained. Now approaching its tenth anniversary, organizers are preparing for the Festival’s biggest and best year to date. It will return to Delaware Park on September 15 for a free all-day event, which fuses a mix of bands, artists, photographers, DJs, dancers, not-for-profit representatives, food vendors, and “Kids Village” performers in an effort to celebrate the convergences between music and art and also to highlight the depth of Buffalo’s art scene.
The Festival has come a long way since its founding in 2003 by Goo Goo Dolls bassist and Buffalo native Robby Takac. From a little parking lot down on Franklin Street by the Allentown Art Festival, to the Hamburg Fairgrounds in 2007 in what Takac refers to as their “orphan year,” to the grounds of the Albright-Knox Art Gallery for three years, and finally to Delaware Park, the Festival has kept improving. “We came over here [Delaware Park] last year, and it was so magical, we decided to use it again,” Takac says. It looks like the Festival has found a home—it is an orphan no longer.
Audiences, artistic aficionados, and appreciators alike are bound to find something that suits their interests. “I think we learned last year when we moved into this large area that we can take a lot of different scenes and set them up all over the place,” Takac says. “There’s something for everyone’s taste, and if you get bored in one place, you can move onto the next.” MiA is getting so big that they’re even closing down the street this year—it will truly be the city’s focal point on September 15. On that same note, there will also be twenty-five percent more artists than last year, as well as the Festival’s first spoken word stage, bringing its stage count up to eleven. “It’s the tenth anniversary. We were going to have ten stages, but there was just too much cool stuff—I couldn’t fit it on ten stages,” Takac says.
Previous festivals have centered on themes such as last year’s “Dress to Express” or 2010’s “Magic Mayhem,” but this year is a bit different. “There’s no real theme, per se, like there has been in the past,” says MiA Art Director Don Keller. “This is more of a special effects idea, so we’re going to be doing a lot of live projections, a lot of special illusionary installations, graphics, etc.”
From a "Battle of the Student Bands" to open performance submissions, MiA is committed to giving young or aspiring artists the chance to showcase their talents to larger audiences. At last year’s festival, some favorites returned to perform, but sixty percent of the bands chosen did not play the Festival in 2010, and thirty percent never played it before. Virtually every genre of music is represented. “We try to bring newer, younger artists in every year, and there’re some favorites of the crowd and us that are outstanding who contribute every year,” Keller says.
The Battle of the Student Bands was held on Saturday, June 2 at the Town Ballroom. No winner has been chosen yet. Fifty percent of the vote will be determined by online votes once the show has been telecast on CW23 on Saturday, July 28 at 2pm. The other fifty percent of the vote was already cast by the audience at the Town Ballroom. First prize includes a main stage slot at this year’s Festival, a full day of recording time at GCR Studio, the digital release of one song on Good Charamel Records, and a professional promo photo shoot from legendary concert photographer, Bob Mussell. Takac did not get to the top of the music industry on his own, so he understands the vast importance for young people to have their musical voices heard.
MiA’s influence reaches far beyond the one-day festival. The not-for-profit organization, run mostly by volunteers, conducts seven programs throughout the year. These include an instrument drive that has collected and refurbished thousands of instruments to donate to local schools, an “Awareness Tour,” employing music as a tool to educate young people about mental health, and “Music in Action,” which teaches music industry skills to students in under-served districts. “It’s so great. The community is really supportive of this Festival,” Takac says. He is returning the favor.
10 a.m.–10 p.m. on Saturday, September 15 at Delaware Park; musicisart.org.