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Between August 21 and 26, in Karlskrona, Sweden, the Carl International Film Festival will have 30 boat-in screenings.

You already know that drive-in movies are back in style. (Remember this March post?) Today I have a Forbes article describing how the idea of using vehicles for social distancing has expanded in Europe.

Sarah Turner writes, “While many of Europe’s arts festivals have been cancelled this year, including Edinburgh, Bayreuth and Glastonbury, others have turned to 1950s America for inspiration with drive-in performances.

Nowhere more so than Germany, which is, appropriately enough, still the heartland of Europe’s car industry which got on board the trend early with festivals in Leipzig and Dusseldorf, partnering art films with innovative venues.

“The Kunstfest Weimar festival, founded in 1990, encompasses  music, theatre and dance to fine arts and film. One of the three strands to this year’s festival is coronavirus and its impact on both society and individuals. To reflect this, six specifically created productions will be staged at a new venue, the Alte Feuerwache drive-in cinema. …

“In the U.K., various drive-in concepts are also taking shape. In early July the unabashedly feel-good Nightflix festival is part music concert, part film screening with cover bands and classic movies. There are two venues, Colchester in Essex and Newark in Nottinghamshire; options include Abba tribute bands and screenings of Grease, Moulin Rouge and Joker. Around 350 cars will be able to attend each performance, with the modern festival essentials of sourdough pizza and halloumi fries also being on hand.

“The Henley Festival, usually a bastion of black ties and crowd-pleasing performances, is putting on an Alternate Festival between July 9-12 with car-based comedy, theatre and karaoke. After Henley the Car Park Festival will be going on the road, venues include Dudley, Manchester, Northampton and Newbury while film and comedy-based The Drive-In Club will take place at London’s Alexandra Palace.

Live Nation will be putting on drive-in concerts with — among others — Dizzee Rascal and Kaiser Chiefs and the cult musical Six, based on the wives of Henry VIII. …

“In Cornwall, Wavelength magazine will have clifftop drive-in cinema experience at Watergate Bay from late July through to the end of August 2020 alongside a host of on-site socially-distant options including street food, live music, tombola popcorn stands and craft beer bars.

“Held at Trebelsue Farm, with space for over 200 cars and vans, The Wavelength Drive-In Cinema Series will start on Friday 24th, the Cornish-set surf film Blue Juice and continues into late August.

“But it’s Scandinavia that is taking the most innovative approach to the notion of the drive-in festival. Between August 21 and 26, in the Swedish town of Karlskrona, the Carl International Film Festival will have 30 boat-in screenings. Taking place in the Salto Fish Harbour with two LED screens, up to 100 boats will be allowed in, drawing attendees from around 1,600 nearby islands, with food delivered to boats from harbourside restaurants.” More at Forbes, here.

Speaking of social distancing by boat or car, I recently suggested to a friend who can’t go farther than her yard or her car that in winter we should park our cars somewhere six feet apart, open a window, keep the heat running — and continue our weekly visits.

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Photo: Michael Pierce
Nahko & Medicine for the People performs at the Four Corners Folk Festival in 2018. Recently, a local radio station agreed to take ownership of the festival.

There’s an Allen Ginsberg poem I love to the effect that sometimes things mysteriously appear just when they are needed. I thought of that poem when I read about a small radio station in Colorado’s Four Corners area taking on live shows it never imagined it could afford.

Braeden Waddell wrote about this at Current last summer.

“Public radio station KSUT in Ignacio, Colo., will assume ownership of two annual music festivals Sept. 30 as part of an agreement with local nonprofit organization FolkWest.

“No money will change hands as part of the arrangement. KSUT Executive Director Tami Graham said that the transfer of the Four Corners Folk Festival and the Pagosa Folk N’ Bluegrass Festival, both three-day events held in Pagosa Springs, Colo., was ‘an incredible donation’ to the station.

“The organizations had developed a relationship through a partnership of more than two decades, with KSUT sponsoring FolkWest in exchange for live studio sessions featuring artists playing for the festivals.

“ ‘My biggest goal with the acquisition of the festivals is just to maintain a really high level of production quality and a great experience for the musicians as well as the attendees,’ Graham said. …

“The decision was made after FolkWest Executive Director Crista Munro took on a new position heading the Sisters Folk Festival in Sisters, Ore. …

“ ‘It was a bittersweet moment for me, knowing that my chapter at the helm of FolkWest would be ending,’ Munro said in a post on KSUT’s website. ‘KSUT always seemed like a natural choice to take over our events. They do an amazing job with everything they produce, and Tami Graham brings a ton of live music production experience to the table.’ …

“Munro told Current that KSUT ‘believed in the vision’ she and her husband had for the festivals. ‘If it were anyone else taking this on, I would be a lot more nervous,’ she said. …

“In an interview with the Colorado Bluegrass Music Society, Munro said that the Folk N’ Bluegrass festival brings in about 2,000 attendees per day and the Four Corners Folk Festival draws nearly double that. …

“KSUT does not plan to make any ‘significant changes’ to the festivals but does aim to expand FolkWest’s Pagosa Folk N’ Bluegrass Jam Camps, which provide three days of music classes for adults and children.

“ ‘There’s a lot of grant funding available for music education … to support bringing in world-class stringed instrument musicians, for example, that want to want to teach and work with adults and youth,’ said Graham. … ‘This is just a perfect fit.’ ”

More here.

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Photo: Simon Buckley
Grandad, an artist who has experienced homelessness, is one of 33 people behind the “Doodle on Ducie Street” mural, part of the International Arts and Homelessness Festival and Summit in Manchester, UK. The event used art as part of a holistic approach to tackling homelessness.

So many initiatives to address the world’s problems feel like a drop in the bucket, but I have to believe that the bucket can be filled — even if it’s only one drop at a time, even if some drops spill out along the way and have to be replaced. Little things mean a lot if they hit a person just at the moment of receptivity.

In England, a homelessness summit last fall tested the potential of art to spark conversations between haves and have-nots and also to give homeless people a reason to get up in the morning. Helen Lock has the story at the Guardian.

“Two armchairs are facing each other in the Whitworth art gallery in Manchester. Denise Harrison, a mental health blogger with past experience of homelessness, is sitting in one of them, waiting for questions.

“A member of the public sits down opposite her, and tentatively asks if she thinks it’s OK to give money to people on the street, as charities discourage it. ‘It’s down to personal choice – you shouldn’t feel bad if you do or if don’t,’ replies Harrison. ‘Some worry it’s enabling addictions, but it’s also providing someone with the option to pay for shelter. On the street, someone can end up with several free McDonald’s burgers but nowhere to sleep that night.’ …

“Dialogues are part of a performance artwork called Are You Sitting Comfortably? by the artist Emma Turner, who felt the public were becoming inured to homelessness in Manchester. The official number of rough sleepers was 278 in 2017, a 41% increase on the previous year, but the true number of its homeless people – counting those in temporary accommodation – is likely to be much higher.

“As Harrison says of her time suffering with alcohol addiction and sofa surfing after the breakdown of her marriage: ‘It’s scary how quickly a situation that was so abnormal became normal, my new normal. It can happen to anyone.’

”The work was part of the inaugural International Arts and Homelessness Festival and Summit, running 12-18 November [2018], which explored a potentially contentious idea: the role of arts and culture in tackling homelessness.

“Manchester was chosen for the event because the city council’s homelessness strategy for the next five years explicitly includes a commitment to increasing access to arts, and because of how the city’s cultural sector has stepped forward to provide support for the council’s plan. …

“Third sector organisations began working together to approach the council, consulting businesses, universities, cultural organisations and the faith sector, as well as people with experience of homelessness. Their findings underpinned the new Manchester Homelessness Charter. … Officials will now work towards what is described as a jigsaw of homelessness support approaches, rather than focusing exclusively on immediate needs such as shelter and healthcare. This includes the chance to meet people, build skills and have fun. …

“But how would this approach work in practice when the crisis is so severe? Beth Knowles, an adviser on homelessness for the mayor’s office, reiterated that the call for a more holistic approach came from homelessness services themselves – even frontline providers such as the night shelters.

“ ‘I’ve spoken to some about trialling the jigsaw approach,’ she said, ‘and while it might not seem the most immediate thing when you’re trying to find beds, some see the value in maybe having some singing or photography sessions on site, because it’s worked well.

‘Of course, not every council officer is going to see this as a priority. But to do something, it doesn’t have to be a priority. It’s part of a whole package. It’s about what that individual needs and offering it.’

“[According to Amanda Croome, chief executive of the Booth Centre, a day facility for people who are homeless or at risk,] ‘We find that if you put someone into a flat and they have no support network, no interests and nothing to do, then very often in six months they’ll be back on the street. What the arts do is give people a new perspective.’

“Lawrence McGill has become an avid gardener since first becoming a regular visitor to the Booth Centre, filling salvaged containers with soil and seeds. He has also written poetry, and a song, ‘Spinning Plates,’ about juggling life’s hardships. ‘My life started the day I stepped into this place.’ ”

Read about other aspects of the festival, including a description of the “immersive opera” Man on a Bench, here.

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Photo: Cory Weaver
Wexford Festival Opera:
Dinner at Eight, by William Bolcom, got its European premiere at last fall’s event.

Back in the 1990s, I worked with a woman whose father was an opera buff. He loved opera so much that, although he had no real connections in the field, he managed to organize a high-quality company in the part of New York State where he lived. Westchester, if I remember correctly.

It wasn’t his day job: it was what he did for love. In another example of opera lovers who go out of their way to lend support, US Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has taken small, non-singing parts on stage, attracting some new audiences.

At the Irish Times, David McLoughlin has another example of what some folks will do for opera.

“Never intimidated by the weight of cultural heritage, each new generation of Irish artists continues to reimagine, reinvent and reinvigorate. The arts are constantly changing, finding new forms of expression and igniting new flames. …

“Wexford Festival Opera was founded on an idea and ethos which still remains at its core today, 67 years later – to present rarely performed operas, to unearth and shine a light on hidden gems.

“I was once told by the then chairman of a leading American opera company that the reason Wexford has rightly survived is because from the outset its rationale was plain wrong.

“He was right: the dream by a small group of local people, including a GP, a hotelier and a postman, in the early 1950s, of bringing international singers to a remote corner of Ireland to present rarely performed operas, wouldn’t even get past the first page of a modern-day feasibility study.

“But they weren’t dissuaded, and the minor detail of no real financial underpinning was from the outset not even considered a hindrance. The dream they were determined to see become a reality was enthusiastically shared and championed by the local community, who volunteered their time and skills. …

“The festival opened up not just Wexford itself, but Ireland and its arts sector, to the international performing world in a way no other cultural venture had done up until then – nor, I would argue, since. The spin-off has been enormous – artistically, culturally, and economically, generating [$14 million] annually. …

“Wexford is often defined as what it is not: a national opera company. It isn’t. Wexford is an annual festival, an international event, proudly Irish, presenting Irish and international audiences with a distinctly international repertoire, featuring Irish and international performers and attracting an audience that stretches well beyond these shores. It makes a vital contribution to the profile, development and reputation of the Irish opera sector. It may be niche but it’s broad enough to accommodate new audiences.”

More at the Irish Times, here. It will be interesting to see how this festival fares after Brexit, when Ireland will still be part of the European Union and its closest neighbors won’t.

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091617-Lowell-mill-girlsMico Kaufman’s 1984 “Homage to Women” captures the determination of Lowell’s 19th century mill girls.

Like many of New England’s postindustrial cities struggling to reinvent themselves, Lowell has attracted a thriving artistic community to its old warehouses.

And as a magnet for generations of immigrants since the Merrimack and Concord rivers were harnessed to power cotton mills in the 19th century, the city has also attract a rich array of cuisines and cultures.

The late U.S. Senator Paul Tsongas helped to create a popular national park in Lowell. Today, others are building on the city’s arts reputation to attract tourists while strengthening ties among the various nationalities.

Yesterday I decided to check out one of the city’s newest festivals, “Creaticity.” Despite good weather, music, food, giant bubbles, and booths that featured artisans of many ethnicities, the event didn’t have anything like the attendance of the city’s 31-year-old folk festival. But you couldn’t expect that. It probably just needs time to get established.

Here are a few Lowell scenes to give you a taste. The last photo is an editorial comment on how challenging it can be to unlock all the inherent beauty of a city like Lowell.

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Photo: SWG3/Facebook
Y
ardworks takes place May 6 and 7
, 2017, in Glasgow, Scotland.

Melita knows I like artistic graffiti. In fact, we are both such fans of Lata_65 (graffiti for old folks) that we intend to try our hand at spray painting if the organization ever comes to the Boston area.

Today Melita shared a link on Facebook about graffiti in Glasgow.

Gregor Kyle wrote at GlasgowLive, “Scotland’s first dedicated graffiti festival will take street art into the heart of the community in Glasgow and open up new opportunities for young people across the city.

“Next weekend (May 6 and 7) in Finnieston, SWG3 will host over 30 of the world’s finest graffiti artists and 50 of Scotland’s street artists at the Yardworks Festival. …

“One of its main aims is to strengthen SWG3’s bond with the local community and the city of Glasgow as a whole.

“School and youth groups have been invited, with the days featuring specialist graffiti workshops and a ‘Creation Station’ for children which will allow everyone the chance to try their hand at painting. …

“ ‘It’s Scotland’s first graffiti festival and the scale of it now, the way it has grown, it’s massive now,’ explained Gaz, who is himself a graffiti artist and part of the management team at SWG3. …

“Most Glaswegians will know SWG3 as a club and concert space but by day it is a thriving hub for artists, filled with studio spaces and workshops. Slowly but steadily it has progressed over the years with the scale and ambitions of its projects growing bigger and bigger.

” ‘The yard is now basically a massive canvas for the artists,’ continued Gaz. ‘We have rendered the walls, wrapped containers in sheet metal – at no small expense – and every surface will be perfect for the artists to paint on. …

” ‘We are trying to build a sense of community in the area, which can be hard sometimes when you have a transient population with some of the students maybe only staying in the flats here for a term and then moving on.

“ ‘Finnieston has this reputation as this hipster area; what people forget is that there is this core population here and in the likes of Partick and Anderston who have lived here a long time. …

“ ‘The Commonwealth Games in Glasgow were fantastic for the city. They drew people together and, through a number of projects, connected me with a lot of other artists and graffiti writers that I didn’t know in the city.

“ ‘We will be looking to run workshops in the summer for young people and will try to play our part in improving the area and bringing the community together.’ ”

More at GlasgowLive, here.

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Sometimes it just takes one person to be a catalyst. Internationally known jazz musician Danilo Pérez is a catalyst for a growing jazz scene in his native Panama. He has a special focus on getting young people excited about jazz and giving them a chance to become musicians.

At the NY Times, Melena Ryzik writes, “Even in jazz, which has a long tradition of mentorship, Mr. Pérez, 49, has emerged as a singular figure. Nearly 30 years after he left his native Panama to study jazz composition at Berklee [College of Music in Boston], he has made promoting musicianship in Panama — using music as a springboard, cultural unifier and teaching tool — his life’s work.

“In 2005, a year after he started [a] jazz festival with his family, he created the Danilo Pérez Foundation, a nonprofit center for music education and outreach; the festival, which draws as many as 30,000 people over its six-day run each January, provides money for the foundation. The club, which opened last February at the new American Trade Hotel, a luxe outpost of the Ace Hotel chain, is, in his view, the last piece of the puzzle.”

Read more.

Photo: Jennifer Shanley
Danilo Pérez (right) directs the Berklee Global Jazz Institute inaugural class.

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The Upper Midwest has some unusual races. One year in Minnesota, for example, my husband and I went to an outhouse race, and I wrote up the experience for an East Coast community paper.

Today I read in the NY Times about a Wisconsin race. Mitch Smith writes, “In Spain, they run bulls. In Kentucky, thoroughbreds. But here in America’s Dairyland, llamas are the four-legged athletes of choice.

“On Saturday afternoon, the llamas converged on this tiny town in the corn-covered hills of western Wisconsin, as they do each September. A llama named Lightning, a 14-year-old with swift feet and a bit of a temper, claimed the heaping basket of tomatoes and peppers that goes to the speediest camelid.

“To the roughly 1,900 residents of Hammond, the Running of the Llamas is something far more than an annual excuse to watch South American pack animals lope down Davis Street. In the 18 years since a local bar owner first let the llamas loose, the event has become a source of communal pride and identity in a state where it seems every dot on the map has its own quirky festival.

“ ‘It makes our town unique,’ said Ariel Backes, 16, the reigning Miss Hammond. ‘It just shows small towns are the best.’ …

“Some llamas were eager to race, sprinting swiftly behind the handler holding its reins. Others were compliant but unenthusiastic, making their way past the cheering fans, lined up four and five deep on some stretches of sidewalk, at more of a brisk walk than a run. And a few llamas were downright uninterested, forcing their handlers to practically drag them to the finish line.” More here.

Suzanne and Erik’s two-year-old fed a llama this summer. I can’t quite picture that llama wanting to do anything but eat.

Photo: Colin Archdeacon on Publish September 14, 2014.
This llama-racing event is in its 18th year in Hammond, Wisconsin.

 

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After a delightful morning with my granddaughter and my older grandson, I went to Providence to hang out with my younger grandson and Suzanne and a good friend.

I caught up with them at the park, where the farmers market was winding down and a free summer concert was revving up: the annual Summit Music Festival. (Check it out here.)

The four of us liked a blues group called the Selwyn Birchwood Band (pictured) and another band called Smith and Weeden. The ice cream eater below had reservations about a third performance. Everyone’s a critic.

We spent a chunk of time going “higher, higher” on the swing in the playground and watching a multi-ethnic group of small boys kick a soccer ball. (How brave it is to go up to boys you don’t know and ask to play!) We skipped the face painting, which was gorgeous but, to a 2-year-old, kind of pointless. We watched kids and grownups painting a mural wall.

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You don’t have to love everything that someone calls a poem to believe that it’s a great thing to encourage poetic expression and enjoyment of poetry in all walks of life.

One of the memorable aspects of Jason Elliot’s book on Iran, Mirrors of the Unseen, at least for me, was how many ordinary people in that country were interested in the great poets of their culture and could recite ancient verse.

Meanwhile, in Miami, there’s a poetry festival that aims to touch everyone.

William Grimes at the NY Times says, “If you live in Miami and you do not read, recite or listen to a poem in April, something has gone seriously wrong. For the third year, the O, Miami Poetry Festival will flood the city with words, using any pretext to accomplish its mission of putting all 2.6 million residents of Miami-Dade County in contact with at least one poem. …

“Poems will be pasted on the mirrors of public bathrooms and positioned at congested intersections, so drivers stuck in traffic jams can get some uplift while their engines idle. …

“One of last year’s most popular events, run with WLRN, the local public radio station, was a poetry contest in which citizen-poets were asked to contribute lines dedicated to the theme: ‘That’s so Miami.’ The winner in the ‘best ode to Miami Spanglish’ category was Lauren Fernandez: ‘Exciting and Extravagant/Guajiros in Bentleys./Tostones and Champagne. That’s so Miami.’

“This year contestants must pick a location between the Palm Beaches and the Keys and enshrine it in verse, incorporating the words “this is where.” Winners will see their work published in The Miami Herald. …

“Ivan Lopez, an actor, will dress as the poet and revolutionary José Martí, mount a white horse and ride down Calle Ocho handing out roses with poems attached. That’s so Miami.”

More  at the Times.

Photo: Ting-Li Wang/NY Times
Reading poetry. Can you identify the poet? Hint: He’s not so Miami.

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I find lots of great links at Andrew Sullivan’s blog. Besides having an excellent staff, he seems to have half the world forwarding cool stuff to him. Otherwise, I probably would never have stumbled on Feature Shoot, which showcases work from up-and-coming and established photographers.

In one article, Amanda Gorence writes, “Photographer Fernando Decillis traveled to Pasto, Colombia for the elaborate Carnaval de Negros y Blancos, a five day festival celebrating the Epiphany that has been a tradition since 1912. …

“El Desfile Magno [the great parade] is a mind-blowing display of immaculately crafted floats made by incredibly talented artists. The artists are usually honored with this task through family ties and only after years of studying the traditional craft. … Decillis gives us a front row spot to the festivities, the artists and the giant masterpieces of Pasto’s celebrated tradition.

“Decillis was born in Montevideo, Uruguay. He is based in Atlanta mixing it up with a variety of advertising, editorial and conceptual work.” More, here.

Photograph: Fernando Decillis

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It took me a while to get into twitter, but I’m hooked now. In fact, some readers  of this blog follow me by way of @LunaStellaBlog1 instead of signing up for e-mails. (Luna & Stella is Suzanne’s company.)

The abortive revolution in Iran showed me the power of twitter and was a turning point for me. I still know the date by heart, June 20, 2009. If you searched on #Iran, the tweets came so fast with offers of new servers when sites were blocked in Iran, with up-to-the-minute photos and recordings, with citizens getting the word out that I got hundreds of tweets per minute and the U.S. president had to ask twitter not to do maintenance one night because it was a critical time of day in Iran.

Now I learn a completely different thing about twitter. It seems that people have been writing fiction in 140-character bites and that the practice has matured to the extent that twitter fiction is ready for a festival.

Writes Jennifer Schuessler at the NY Times, “The participants, some two dozen published and neophyte authors from five continents chosen by a panel of American publishing insiders, are posting in five different languages, often with input solicited from readers. The Iowa-based writer Jennifer Wilson is posting photographs of gravestones and then writing ‘flash fiction’ in response to epitaphs submitted by followers. The South African author Lauren Beukes is writing mashups, gathered under the hashtag #LitMash, based on ‘incongruous suggestions (the weirder the better!),’ according to the festival’s showcase page.

“The French fantasy novelist Fabrice Colin is writing a serialized story of five strangers trapped on a bus. And an anonymous Chinese author is contributing ‘Censortive,’ a story exploring the limits of free speech in the People’s Republic, tweeted out in a series of late-night installments.” Read more here.

It’s not War and Peace, of course.

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We went to the first day of a family-oriented music festival in Canton (MA) put on to raise money for a charity called The Life is good Playmakers. “The Life is good Playmakers provide innovative training and support to frontline child care professionals dedicated to helping children overcome life-threatening challenges, including violence, illness and extreme poverty.” This year the Life is good Kids Foundation is training 1,200 new playmakers around the country to help 20,000 kids.

The rain held off, and a fine time was had by people of all ages. Tell me if this is too many pictures.

John catches up with CEO Bert.

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