A long time ago I learned not to do things at random or fight for the bone in front of me, like pop culture teaches us to do. Rather, I choose to walk the journey of an artist with great dignity, never in a hurry to get the false and pathetic attention from would-be sponsors, or so they pose themselves to be.
In Hollywood they fight like mad dogs for a little bit of attention. They starve themselves, work to death, fight more, and betray their friends. Seems that everyone wants to know someone famous so they can have an in. The music industry of Austin, TX is no different. Just working there for a short while made me realize I wanted nothing to do with it.
My life was set. I had a glamorous job and met regularly with the local celebs to discuss future events and concerts. As a girl who dreamed of being a rock-star for as long as I could remember, this was the place I needed to be, right smack in the middle of the most happening circles in the Live Music Capital of the World.
I had a great reputation, and the top-est people respected me and the work I did with PR and event organization. One person even asked me to create an event of my own choice and he would fund it completely. What I’m talking about is the nature of Pecan Street Festivals, where hundred thousand + people attend to see art, concerts and movies, as well as drink a whole lot of beer in the streets. It was great fun!
Then the beast unmasked itself. It was a snake pit, the description I used a long time ago. I still think it fits. People lose their minds with popularity, money and fame! Friendships are fragile and those who own the concert halls have the souls of all musicians in the palms of their hands. Sickening.
When I was still naive I went to a V.I.P. only event and asked a good friend, and (a very high up V.I.P), why he didn’t go and his answer was “I know where the bodies are buried”. It didn’t take me long to figure out what he meant. That friend was my mentor and helped me not buck the whole damn thing off my back and get the hell out of there. “Stay there”, he would say. “You can’t make any changes if you leave”.
I sat in car and just drove with heavy thoughts. What should I do?
I will do the impossible. I will make changes, and even if I’m doing it alone, I will do it.
I did it.
I was supported because I was logically right. If you want to make more money and be more popular, you have to give damn good quality. You also have to be riding the waves of change. There is a demand for new stuff in this town, and we have to provide it.
How? was the great question.
I don’t know, but one thing I do know is that there is an answer floating around in the universe and all it has to do is drop in my head. I *will* get that answer.
Money was gambled. If I was wrong my boss would lose thousands…
Driving again, I just said out loud, I will not move until I find the answer. And it came!
I was already not accepting the applications from hundreds of people who wanted to show at our event. Bad quality, not original, etc. I wanted committed artists, who knew what they were doing, to show up, pay for their spot and be part of our festival: The 30th Anniversary of the Pecan Street Festival.
The answer that came to me was to open a new section for everything holistic. Pressure was high because all spots (300) had to be filled by January and it was already March, and there was no clear answer and I was still not accepting crappy applications.
I would reassure my boss over and over again that it was going to work. I knew it. In the last month, which is worst than the last hour, people showed up from out of nowhere and asked if they could show in our event. These people were legit too! They all owned small businesses that had to do with organic, natural and holistic, eating, healing & caring for the planet. So Austin! See here
All spots were filled minus one or two, which is actually not bad. Some phonies made it into the show because I didn’t know better, but it wasn’t saturated like before.
Another thing I wanted to see happen in order to be able to call our event successful, is to know that the artists showing had a successful and lucrative weekend. They paid us a certain amount and it wasn’t our problem what happened after that. But it was my problem, because I am an artist!
I talked to each one of them on the phone in the months prior to the event. I looked at all their pictures, heard all their stories and complaints, and granted their wishes to the best of my ability which was about 95% yes on everything they asked, in terms of logistical support and needs like electricity, shade, etc.
They were happy!
When all was said and done, I tied the bow on the most successful event the Pecan Street Festivals had seen and I knew there was something bigger helping me. It was magical! Every moment, every step, ever person. It was beyond what I could have planned myself, because you can’t plan for magic, you can only give the person a spot to show their work.
In 2008, the year of the financial crisis, many of our artists and other vendors had made more money than they had in any other Pecan festival, and in any other show throughout the nation. I know because I went and spoke with each one of them to see how they were doing. I was blown away! See a couple of videos here & here.
As much fun as I had helping to plan the event and watch it fly so successfully, I knew I had to leave because of some very deep core issues. I cannot stand by and watch the vampire nature of the industry and how people take such advantage of the artists who are fighting so damn hard to see their own boat sail.
You’re going to do what you’re going to do, that I cannot change. But you’re not going to put my name on it. My name stands for justice, and a world that is fair for everyone. That will never change. At the end of the festival I put in my two weeks and nobody could convince me to stay. Some close friends warned me that I was throwing away an opportunity of a lifetime, and that everyone has to take a lot of shit in order to “make it”.
Not me. I’m not taking one single iota of this crap. I do not support and I will not work for a predatory business. Ever. Ever. Ever.
This commitment puts me in somewhat of a bind because where can I go if I live by that standard?
I made a big vow that I wouldn’t do it and that’s the end of it. The Universe has to show up with an answer, like it has done so many times before.
2009 was a bleak year. No answers. Nowhere to go.
2010 brought me to Ithaca by a random twist of fate, and within a few months I was working at Manndible, the most humane place I have ever worked in my life! It’s not only a place to go and make your living. (That is just the first layer). Underneath it all, it’s really a safe place for those of us who are bruised and broken by life to stop, heal our wounds, gather experience, strength, and a lot of emotional support, then keep moving on. The owners demand that we live up to our potential. How awesome is that?!
I don’t need a fancy sponsor. I need the Universe to keep sponsoring my steps and guiding me in the right direction. I will not bow to the gods of greed, need, competition and the double-faced nature of pop culture. They can all go to hell together.
Being committed to stand on my own, help or no help, friends or no friends, it always happens that help shows up. It always happens that my friends still love me. This amazes me!
8 thoughts on “universally sponsored”
I read this with genuine pleasure & it reminded me of this.
“In a room where people unanimously maintain a conspiracy of silence, one word of truth sounds like a pistol shot.”
― Czesław Miłosz
And some beast is shot wounded and mad or dead depending on your aim.
Nobody ever said truth was kind, it’s just better than the alternative.
There is an alternative??
Sadly, I am afraid there is. Ever listened to all the things people don’t say?
Silence is over. The beast, if not dead yet, is dying… you can thank so many of us for that!
Wonderful piece – on all levels! And all I can say is Brava, lady!! Never sell your soul to the Man… the ‘payoff’ is never worth it. Fascinating read… xoxo
Thank you, Stephia! Been wanting to write this story for a long time and yesterday it just flowed, I didn’t edit anything but typos here and there. Happy that I have that story to tell!