Fellow editor Francois Levesque and I sat down with Rolf Klausener and Stefanie Power for a meandering chat about Arboretum Arts Festival, the values that are embedded in it and how things are going this year. It was great to catch up with them about their project and we recorded the conversation for our weekly podcast Apartment613 Live. You can find the full thing (slightly edited) in our podcast this week.
A few things came out of this conversation that I think are important for us to think more about.
In discussing the economics of the festival, we had an interesting conversation about how the economics of music are changing. In places like Ottawa, festivals are becoming a key places for us to see live music. There are many acts that really don’t have anywhere else to play. According to Rolf, a band’s ability to tour can be limited. It’s tough to hit the road and try to make a go of it at small venues, so waiting until festival season can be much more lucrative. If we want to be a destination for bands and acts we want to see, we need to make sure that we create spaces for live music in Ottawa. That’s a tough one to solve, but festivals like Arboretum are carving out a great space.
It’s also important to note that the team behind Arboretum is totally volunteer-run. These guys are working hard and paying artists, but it’s still a passion project for them. I’ve got a huge respect for that.
Arboretum has worked to add an interesting food element to the festival. As Stefanie and Rolf were describing their desire to include food in a unique way, I was struck by how great it is to see people incorporating food into cultural events in new ways. Arboretum isn’t just plopping down some food vendors in a fenced-in pen at the festival – they are actually putting chefs on stage and interacting with them as artists. If we are going to be thoughtful and considerate about food, we probably need to stop thinking about it as secondary to other art.
I think that the most interesting thing about a festival like Arboretum is what is says about our city’s culture. We’re in a place where we need a celebration of our local music and food, and I genuinely love the stuff that Arboretum has pulled together. They have worked to put great artists, great community collaborators and great food in a shared creative space. They have curated an awesome two days for us and I think it’s a perfect opportunity to toast the city.
The festival gets underway tonight with Jim Bryson headlining. Tomorrow has the chef sessions running all afternoon and ends with Owen Pallett at night, with an after-party planned for later. Tickets will be available on site. Get out there and have fun. Listen to our full conversation as part of Apartment613 Live here. Also! apologies to Stefanie for us getting her last name wrong in the intro! She is in fact Stefanie Powers.