If It Ain't Broke, Don't Fix It!

June 05, 2016  •  4 Comments

If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!

 This review of my most recent show is hard for me to write. I have many friends involved in the planning and execution of the 1st Annual Mondo Root Cultural Arts Festival in Clayton NC this past weekend.  

  So let me qualify this post by saying this is solely the opinion of ONE VISUAL ARTIST. There were many other artists involved in this festival and they probably have a different opinion.

  First, a little history: this festival started out as “Millstock”,  The first event was held in 2000, when a handful of artists and musicians gathered in a dirt parking lot behind The Coffee Mill in downtown Clayton. It has since become an annual event that draws more than 1,000 people to downtown. I first did Millstock in 2014 and I did okay sales for a smaller festival. My expectations were low so I was pleasantly surprised. Then in 2015 they improved Millstock, they went back to the basics. They put more emphasis on music, added food trucks, and started serving beer and wine. In addition, they added more visual artists to total about 45.

  That year was a tremendous success for Left Behind photography! I TRIPLED my sales from 2014 plus got my name and photos out to thousands of more faces. I was super-excited to be returning to the 2016 show.

 Shortly after that show is when they decided to change it for 2016. There was a new production company brought it with a successful track-record of great area events. The name was changed to ‘Mondo Roots Cultural Arts and Music Festival’. Most significant change is the decision to de-emphasize the visual arts and focus more on the performing arts.  Their motto is “celebrating diversity and empowering the community”.  Many more bands were added from an eclectic mix of genres, and it was soon clear to me that this was to be the focus of Mondo Roots.
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  The festival hours were 1 – 8 pm, which is the latest start for a summer festival I have ever been involved in, putting it in the hottest part of the day.  The temps hovered around 93* with 100% humidity all day. Those temps kept the some of the crowds away.  A morning start would have helped bring more people outside I believe. The people who did show up were NOT the art-buying crowd. They were mainly there to drink beer and listen to the music. I think many of them were surprised that there were even art vendors there. From what I saw, the only successful vendors there were the beer and ice cream booths.

  There were artists placed too close to the stage (me included) to conduct business. The speakers were extremely loud making it difficult for me to talk to, or hear, the few people who came into my booth. Many visual artists did not even show up, leaving open areas of the street. To me this looks like missing teeth in a smile. The visual artist should have been condensed into one location farther away from the stage.

 Overall attendance was low. I don’t know the numbers but I was certainly less than the 2015 Millstock. I would guess that there may have been 1,500 total people throughout the day. I can’t say if that is due to advertising, the name change, the change in emphasis, the hot weather, or a combination of all the factors.

  I am still extremely frustrated right now. I made 3 sales the entire DAY! I don’t mind sweating my balls off if I am selling art and meeting a ton of people. But I didn’t. I could have better used my time elsewhere this past Saturday.

I hope I don’t hurt anyone’s feelings with this post. It is nothing personal. It is only ONE artist’s opinion.

Exhausted,
  Kyle 


Comments

4.Emily(non-registered)
Kyle,

You are a fantastic artist and it upsets me to hear that your overall sales were low. I have bought several of your pieces over the years and your work inspires me daily. That being said, I feel like I need to address a few key things since I was closely involved in Mondo Roots. For starters, Mondo Roots is NOT the Millstock renamed, it is a brand new festival and it is not solely an arts festival. Though the unbelievably high temperatures undoubtedly affected our attendance numbers we still had a far higher number of people attend Mondo Roots than the 2015 Millstock (according to former Millstock committee members). Also, being that this was our first year, we fully expected to have a few hiccups here and there, most of which have already been addressed for next year's festival.

As a huge fan of yours, I do hope you give Mondo Roots a second chance as we are going to work hard on continually bringing in a more diverse and arts minded crowd. We would love to hear more about your experience along with any suggestions you might have. Please email us at mondorootsfestival@gmail.com or email me directly.

Thanks for your support,
Emily Brown
Event Coordinator
3.Rezester(non-registered)
Wow, kyle
This interesting to know.
I too are a artisum but i do designer lg
Wreaths one of a kind. But i get you.
T thought about doing that festival.but
I change my mind. Glad i did. But i think
This year have been like that at most of the events around town. I dont know whats going
On here in thus area. Well hope you get a
Good next show or event.
2.Left Behind, photography by Kyle Wilson
THANK YOU SO MUCH LAURA!
I appreciate that more than you know. Yes, it is a shame. Instead of building on the success of the previous year, they blew it up and started again.

No I am not discouraged. I know I can do better at other shows, including one in just to weeks in Ohio. I does, however, limit the amount I can invest in that show. I can't add as much inventory nor make some improvements to my display/booth that I was hoping to.

Thanks Again,
Kyle
1.Laura(non-registered)
That's really sad they took from the visual artists. They are the real ones that make history. I'd say it was a combo of all elements but it only goes from your post because I was not there. I know you are an awesome artist so that can not be it. I love your work and hope this does not discourage you from continuing doing what you love.
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