January 29, 2013

Art council searching for new fest lead

Jessica Lane, Staff Writer,
The Express-Star

CHICKASHA — The Chickasha Area Arts Council is looking for a fearless leader to take on the mammoth effort that is the Rock Island Arts Festival.

CAAC met on Monday evening to discuss the future of the festival and how it can be executed this year to maximize volunteer hours and yield the best result possible for the community.

In the past, the festival has not always lived up to the vision. "We have champaign desires and beer efforts," Virginia Savage, former co-chair of the Rock Island Arts Festival in 2012, said.

The big decision of the evening was deciding to try to find someone to be at the helm.

CAAC made a motion to contribute up to $2,000 as a stipend toward a Rock Island Arts Festival director for 2013.

In addition to finding someone to lead the way, the group discussed making the festival smaller. Savage suggested concentrating efforts, such as resurrecting the Rose Hill Cemetery Tour with a shorter Rock Island Arts Festival. The Rose Hill Cemetery Tour is a historical reenactment of people from Chickasha who are buried in Rose Hill Cemetery. However, there was discussion about whether this would actually create more work.

There were some problems last year. The rain put a damper on the festival and slowed down festival traffic.

The festival may have tried to be bigger than was realistic, one person suggested. For example, the festival may not have been well known enough for a juried art competition where artists pay a jury fee.

The festival has also conflicted with event in the past, from Junior Social Workers Spaghetti Day to Chickasha High School football games.

There was some discussion about not having an arts festival and instead pursuing other smaller events.

The problem with this, one person suggested, is that once the festival has been pulled, there is no going back.

Someone suggested there could be more crafts at the festival, rather than strictly original artwork. The OKC Art Festival, for instance, used to have craft vendors before it grew into a major festival.

Covering the mail building may be a solution to save costs on the festival. If possible, this would save costs for artists.

Chickasha City Manager, Stewart Fairburn, was at the meeting and gave the group some constructive feedback. The music last year was too loud for the artists to hear themselves talk, the music stage was in an awkward place and the lighting was poor.   

He asked the council how they wanted to measure success and if a crowd of five thousand was really the goal.

"What's wrong with 100 people getting together and having a good time," he asked.

The meeting ended on a contemplative note. No doubt there will be much more to discuss at the next CAAC meeting at 7 p.m. on Feb. 19 at the Alumni House at USAO.