I doubt many people that are versed in the topic of democracy would think of music festivals as showing how a democracy should function, but I must admit, that person is me. During countless instances at various music festivals, I can recall observing the operation of the festivals – seeing the volunteers park cars and move equipment, the (paying) people dancing, talking, forming new relationships, the artists performing their life’s passions, the food vendors providing quality service, the organizers, the visual artists, the hospitality/care teams, and more – and being stunned at how well everything worked combined with how much included every single person was in the amazing time. While people may mean different things in saying this, there is merit to the statement “this is how life should be”. What they mean is, music festivals embody the inclusiveness and individual engagement that in turn makes a large group of people flourish in their combined interests towards their ideal society. Sounds a lot like democracy to me!
Music Festivals are the hubs for the multitudes of art-inspired people of today. They are the vacation for the artist. However, many people leave music festivals with the feeling that what they experienced was more real than the daily mechanism of our society. Considering the camping aspect of most music festivals, as well as the applied art that cultivates feelings of free expression, all inclusiveness, open-mindedness, and community sustainment, music festivals are among the freshest manifestations of democracy, blossoming in the 21st century. Campout music festivals are based not only on the importance of art and expression, but they are sustained based on the combined intention of every individual to contribute money, time, and/or service to the organization. A mutual application of respect to one another and the Earth is the base for successful music festivals. They are a place where a fully functioning community not only exists through these necessary efforts, but thrives off of shared creativity, ideas conversed with former strangers, and of course through lots of dancing.
I would like to first draw on the writers we’ve read throughout the semester to connect music festivals to democratic culture, because I know that Emerson, Whitman, Williams, Dewey, and Sommer can support this idea that the properties of music festivals manifest the characteristics of a democracy very well. This will be in essay form, and I will synthesize my own interpretation at the end.
Secondly, I will have a different component to the project. It will be partly visual, using pictures and examples of democracy within music festivals, which I will use to explain how the art effects people when they’re in large, socio/economically, ethnically, culturally, mentally, and spiritually diverse groups of very different people. Everyone is at different walks of life interpreting the art together, free of critical judgement. I will take pieces of testimonies of other peoples festival experiences, as well as interviews from Woodstock and other music festivals going back to the 1960s. This could end up as a powerpoint, a video, or a segment of my blog.