I didn’t go to any of the ArtsFest events this weekend, busy, tired and didn’t have the energy for trying to hunt for the bits I’d enjoy. I did walk through it on Saturday at about three though, and it was rammed and people seemed to be enjoying it a lot (the weather no doubt helped bring out the crowds). Even stuffed rabbits had a good time.
I think I’ve worked out why ArtsFest makes some people mad and uncomfortable with supporting it. Some is due to the supposed chaos behind the scenes, some to the haphazard promotion, but for me at least it’s the name. Some of what was on offer wasn’t “art” — some was craft, some was participatory science, some were information stalls about local charities or groups… some was Blues Brothers tribute acts (okay that’s just be being snobbish). All interesting, potentially popular, valuable to the community, but not art.
Could we all get behind it more, feel more a part of it, if we weren’t told it was “art”? Couldn’t it be “Britain’s Biggest Community Festival”. Giving people a reason to feel proud, make it Brum people and orgs only, no parachuting in “headline acts” — if it was BrumFest it would have a reason to exist, it would be a day for and from and about the people of Birmingham. A coming together of community.
Maybe it would be a little more chaotic, but people would be able to help — make it open and there’s lots of people dying to sort out some of the problems.