The conference sessions I attended today went well, though some pertained more to my interests than others. With concurrent workshops it’s always a gamble.
MONEY MATTERS: A Fund-raising Workshop
Sheila Bishop, from the Civic Media Center in Gainesville, FL spoke on the topic of getting money donated to run your organization. I went to a similar session of hers last year, and a lot of it was repeat information. I was hoping that there would be more discussion on the issue of guilt that money creates within the independent world. I struggle with that myself, and I think it keeps people from making their projects the best they can be. As soon as money is involved it feels dirty — but organizations need money to continue existing. Even if money leads to slight compromise, perhaps it’s better to give a little than to no longer exist; or maybe that ruins the entire project. I think this discussion will pick up tomorrow during the session called SELL OUT: Owning Up to the Marketing and Politics of Self-Publishing.
Sheila is a really enthusiastic person about fund-raising, and had a ton of practical tips to do it effectively. There are so many hidden costs and legal parameters involved, particularly if you’re running a non-profit. We worked out a budget, and discussed what the best avenues for soliciting donations are. There was discussion of both minimum and goal based financial plans, as well as some real world examples.
HIP HOP ACTIVISM AS MEDIA ARTS FOR TRANSFORMATION
This panel didn’t really live up to its potential. Three presenters performed work and expounded on various things, but there was no real cohesiveness. It could have definitely used a moderator to keep everything on topic. The performances were basically spoken word, and the speakers seemed to differentiate little between that form and hip-hop music.
Two points resonated and stuck with me. One is the idea that as a movement is able to obtain part of their goal, it can become pacified and the efforts to continue toward that goal slow down. Resistance is strongest when the need is the greatest, which only makes sense. How to keep the energy going even when things are starting to look up? This reminds me of people who think that feminism “succeeded”, so they don’t have to worry about women’s rights anymore.
The other interesting topic was that of ethnomusicology and how cultural tastes can work for or against you. For example, African-Americans are drawn to the drum beat, and derivations of it form the basis of hip-hop music. If a socially conscious song is sung over the same sort of beat found in more ignorant music will it be listened to, or just danced to? Is it wise to rebel against the popular sounds if you’re looking to get noticed and effect change?
SO YOU WANT TO START A MAGAZINE? A Panel Discussion With New and Not-So-New Publishers
This was an informative and question driven discussion with Jen Angel of Clamor Magazine, Steve Novotni of Xray Magazine, and Tara Robers of Fierce Magazine. Those publications range from a free newsprint weekly to a bi-monthly high gloss, high distribution, lifestyle magazine. The diversity of perspectives was nice, considering that they are all independently minded and self funded projects.
I was interested in getting some practical tips to help with the as of yet unrealized Moped Magazine. I came away from the discussion not only knowing more about the process, but feeling as if I could actually make it work on a large scale. The thing is, I’m not sure I want to. I’m still interested in creating the magazine, but on a smaller, more realistic scale. High gloss means high money. Lots of investment means lots of time and effort to make sure it’s successful enough to get you out of debt. I’d like to do it in a low risk, lo-fi, but still high quality manner. At the very least, we need to start off small.
There was talk of practical considerations for choosing a printer, distribution company, and information on where the money tends to come from. A lot of these decisions are based on what your goal is, and how quickly you want the magazine to grow. Ethical discussions about advertising and conflicts of interest were also discussed.
LIVING RADIO: The Art of Documentary Audio
Julie Shapiro from the Third Coast International Audio Festival hosted this workshop on the art and power of audio. Living in Chicago, and constantly listening to WBEZ throughout the day, has made me appreciate the medium of radio like I never have before. It’s been called “the most visual medium”, and I think that can be true.
Most of the pieces we listened to were excerpts from longer stories. She dimmed the lights, and nearly everyone chose to close their eyes while listening. The ability to experience the medium with your eyes closed is one of my favorite things about audio. For me, visual distraction makes concentrating on other mediums difficult to do for long periods of time. Movies can make me sit still in the theater, but I still get distracted by the people around me. Being able to entirely tune out the visual makes audio stories and music really connect.
The best pieces we heard were Oakland Scenes: Snapshot of a Community [Real Audio Link] and Shades of Gray. Both are available in their entirely at those links, which I need to check out when I get back home.