As a veteran of the New Belgium Clips Festival, I can say with certainty that it gets better and better every year. Aside from the good eats and drinks, the main attraction for me is the surprising mixture of inspirational, comical, and informative short films that are shown under the stars in one of Charleston’s most beautiful locations, Marion Square. I think the whole festival is very well organized for its young age and accomplishes a lot in just a couple of hours. Not only do the films speak to the audience, but New Belgium also sponsors raffle giveaways, local food vendors, and even brings in the Charleston Green Fair to keep the festival as environmentally friendly as possible. It was a great opportunity to forget you were in the middle of a busy city – the ability to just stretch out in the grass and enjoy good food, good people, and good films is a rare something that I look forward to every year.
In our class discussion on economics, we talked about ticket scaling and how it affects the demand for the event. Based on observations at the Clips Festival, it is a smart move on their part to forgo an overall admission charge for the festival. It was obvious that many audience members – who weren’t broke, underage college students like myself – were much more willing to indulge and spend their money on the delicious food and craft beers provided by New Belgium. This allows them to both raise awareness of their relatively new brewing company as well as raise a significant amount of funds in support of a local non-profit, Charleston Moves. I would recommend this event to anyone and everyone as one of my favorite things to do in Charleston. It’s a fun twist on the Farmer’s Market that happens every Saturday afternoon in Marion Square, and a must-see for both locals and visitors.
In hopes of expanding my knowledge of guitar beyond the modern associations with the Red Hot Chili Peppers and The Strokes, I went to the Classical Guitar Festival presented by the College of Charleston’s Department of Music. On the whole, I thought the performers were really excellent and talented, as far as my untrained ears could tell anyway. However, it was just not as exciting as what I am used to in the way of musical performances. The spectacle, though, was not the point I suppose. The performance was focused more on the skill and mastery of this one instrument that I never knew could be manipulated in so many ways. I found myself appreciating the event much more afterward than I did while sitting in the recital hall; it opened my eyes to a new art form that was a considerable distance outside of my comfort zone.
In order to attract more of the student body to the performances, the Classical Guitar Festival was completely free for students. In my opinion, this is a great operational plan-specifically a marketing plan- not only to attract more audience members but a specific audience demographic that could directly impact the Department of Music here at the college. The more free concerts they advertise, the more broke college students are likely to attend and increase their awareness of the great programs and musicians that the department produces; in the long run, this awareness could turn into potential supporters and patrons of the Department of Music.
And if by the end of this you are as curious as I was, you can watch my personal favorite performer of the evening, Ulyana Machneva, here!
On Wednesday night I had the pleasure of seeing two fresh improvisation acts – Little Miss Codependent and Moral Fixation – at Theatre 99. As someone personally terrified of any kind of performance art, I’ve always marveled at those with a gift for theatrics; unfortunately, this caused a little bit of a barrier and disconnect between the art and artists of the theater and myself. At Theatre 99, however, I thought that the theater design and the the performers themselves created an overall atmosphere of an exciting and almost gritty accessibility that I’d never experienced in a theater setting before. Everything from the performers’ casual attire to their encouragement of audience participation made me feel comfortable, relaxed, and connected with their hilarious skits. I even smiled and congratulated Brandy on a great performance on my way out – something I could never dream of doing at a Broadway show or a performance of an equally flashy magnitude. The show was enjoyable because it was much more than funny; it was down to earth and effortless.
Shortly before the show, I noticed that almost every seat in the theater was occupied and by quite a diverse audience. I went to their website after the show, and I discovered that Theatre 99 does a great job of incorporating hip technological advancements (specifically Facebook) to reach out and advertise to a broad audience. Their page is updated often with upcoming events and even used interactively for quirky “ticket giveaways” to encourage a steady return audience base. As a critique, I would like to see even further outreach around Charleston so that they can continue to attract new, perhaps unsuspecting fans like myself; after the show, I came across too many people who had never heard of Theatre 99 or thought it was synonymous with Pure Theatre on King. For such a small organization, though, I think Theatre 99 is doing a great job of navigating through the rapid technological advances that are changing the arts scene around the world. If you’re considering watching re-runs of Whose Line Is It Anyway? on YouTube or just looking for a good laugh, I’d highly suggest an evening at Theater 99 instead.