Opportunities to Perform in Arts Festivals

November 30, 2012

Minto residents performing at Minto: Live.

Arts festivals are changing.

One of the earliest arts festivals was the yearly Three Choirs Festival started in England in the 18th century and eventually featured musicians like Mozart and Beethoven. But most modern arts festivals emerged just after World War II; for example, out of the rubbles grew events like the Edinburgh International Festival, established in 1947 to “provide a platform for the flowering of the human spirit.” It featured theatre performances, opera, music, dance, and visual arts–placing emphasis on elite artists, that is, only performers held in the highest esteem by the culture. What followed was the birth of many more high-arts festivals following this tradition, which is how it’s been rolling unquestioned and unchanged for decades…until recently.

This is where it gets more interesting. Theater producer David Binder, who Variety describes as “one of the most successful guerilla producers around,” has been journeying around the globe in search of the new, emerging face of the arts. In an inspiring talk, Binder cites several examples of this modern take on arts festivals which emphasizes “radically open” themes. Open referring to performances that stimulate dialogue about local communities in relation to our global similarities and differences; open because the audience is engaged as integral players to the performance rather than just as spectators; and open because such festivals are often located outdoors or weaved into real-life settings like a train station or the mall.

Take, for example, Minto: Live 2011. Residents of the Australian town of Minto became the stage for original performances created by critically acclaimed Australian and international artists in collaboration with Minto residents. The audience walked through the suburban streets of Minto to experience contemporary theatre, dance, film, music and song, before it culminated in a pyrotechnic-based performance.

Many such modern opportunities have presented themselves to local performers, enriching communities with unique cultural experiences and pride. And, more importantly, many more are just waiting to be created and filled with your specific talents.

Listen to David Binder’s talk to hear about the variety of ways people have been finding local opportunities to perform, and become inspired to be a part of this cultural revolution. What new trend in the performing arts will you advance?