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Harmony: Community-building and the music industry panel discussions

Harmony: Community-Building and the Music Industry was a series of panel discussions presented by Creative Many and 88.1FM WYCE about music as a necessary enhancement to the quality of life in Michigan's communities.
Pictured: LaTarro Traylor, Danielle Dunn, Graham Parsons, Yolonda Lavender

Pictured: LaTarro Traylor, Danielle Dunn, Graham Parsons, Yolonda Lavender /Jnew Photos

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Creating Harmony Through a Community Festival: Lamp Light Music Festival 2017

If interested in creating harmony through a community festival there is still time to engage in and experience the Lamp Light Festival, which is entering into its 6th year. This festival is unique in that it is a house concert music festival that takes place in the living rooms of homes in Eastown. Lamp Light Music festival 2017 is scheduled for November  4th – 6th.

“The idea was cultivated by the creators to strip down the experience of music. As we often find ourselves listening to live music in large venues or bars and we can sometimes lose the ability to live in the moment to the abundances of other distractions surrounding us. So the idea was to strip an event way down to allow a connection to occur with the musicians and their audience, in a way that doesn’t usually happen,” stated Music and Cultural Festivals as Community Organizing Platforms panelists Danielle Dunn, of the Lamp Light Music Festival. “So it is much like a house show on steroids as there are many different houses hosting events simultaneously. Lamp Light Festival 2017 will be hosting 30+ bands. Lamp Light Festival is also utilizing support from Michigan non-profit Creative Many who will also be facilitating programing throughout the festival in addition to Lamp Light’s efforts, “ says Dunn.

Pictured: Lauren Rossi, Nicole LaRae, Scott Hammontree, Josh Newman

Pictured: Lauren Rossi, Nicole LaRae, Scott Hammontree, Josh Newman /Jnew Photos

On Friday, September 22, 2017, the final event of ArtPrize 2017 Artist Week concluded with the event Harmony: Community-Building and the Music Industry.

Harmony: Community-Building and the Music Industry was a series of panel discussions presented by Creative Many and 88.1FM WYCE about music as a necessary enhancement to the quality of life in Michigan's communities. There were three highly engaging hour-long panel discussion sessions that occurred at the ArtPrize Nine clubhouse titled Community Radio in Context, Music and Cultural Festivals as Community Organizing Platforms, and Music Venues as Community Hubs.

One panel discussion covered such topics as the reasons why community media provides a platform of voice to express one’s thoughts. Another panel of festival organizers discussed the significance behind hosting a community driven event while ensuring positive social impact for festival artists and attendees.

Finally, a panel of booking agents, venue managers and promoters discussed how to balance wearing multiple hats in today’s industry in order to maintain profitable venues while welcoming emerging artists, non-profit organizations and businesses into their spaces. These panel discussions brought together a group of talented individuals from their respective industries, all of which are interwoven within the music industry across Michigan and the United States.

Moderators and panelist included:


Sally Kane, CEO of the National Federation of Community Broadcasters

Quinn Mathews, Station Manager of WYCE

Danielle Dunn, Lamp Light Music Festival

Graham Parsons, Farm Block Music Festival

Yolonda Lavender, Kalamazoo Black Arts Festival

Nicole LaRae, Booking/Venue Manager, Pyramid Scheme

Scott Hammontree, Talent Buyer/General Manager, Intersection

Josh Newman, Senior Promoter, Live Nation (20 Monroe Live)


Lauren Rossi, Creative Many Creative Industries Program Manager

LaTarro Traylor, Downtown Grand Rapids Inc.

Joe Voss, Creative Many Director of Strategic Partnerships

Harmony is defined as the combination of two or more musical notes at the same time in a way that is pleasant or desired. These sessions did exactly what the definition above states; however instead of music notes, their combination of different philosophies, advice, feedback, personal stories, success stories, challenging moments, organizational history, how-to’s, what-not-to-do’s, and each organization’s mission statement, were ideas that were shared and blended together to create a harmonious soliloquy of inspiration to any artists or individuals who were in attendance.

After each panel discussion, which ran from 1-4 p.m. in the ArtPrize Club house, panelists made themselves available to network and share further advice. Events such as this one help to forge a sense of community in a time where our own goals, ambitions and egos can divide us. However, these interwoven networks of individuals gave enlightening testimony of how to make a real impression on community broadcasting platforms, such as a radio station, or how to authentically engage a venue in your community if thinking of hosting a benefit event or concert, and ways to help the festivals in your community keep growing.

To sum up all that I absorbed in these three hours of engaging information, if you desire to foster and create a truly harmonious relationship as a community-based organization, it is like creating a galvanized steel linked chain. Whether you are a festival organizer, a community media center, or a venue located in the city, you can begin as the first link. As the first link you must make it strong, forging your chain strength through openness, transparency, honesty, and gathering feedback from all parties involved with day-to-day operations. Using these elements as ingredients to forge your first link will take time, and rushing or skipping any steps in this process can cause your link—once exposed to harsh weather or heavy resistance or weight—to weaken, bend, or break. Next, you must ensure your staff and/or volunteers are utilized in the manner that makes the most sense for your organization, incorporating youth into these critical positions when and where applicable. Finally, the last step in forging this chain is developing partnerships. Partnerships will grow through your reputation and brand-awareness in the community you serve. Now that the steps are known you can continue to add other links to the chain, making it longer and stronger as days turn into weeks, weeks into months, and months into years. While forging this chain in an economically sustainable way, your reach and network of connections will soon be strong enough to help your fellow community members.

But, one must remember there is no substitute for time, and the faintest light will always brighten the darkness as true community harmony can deaden the disjunct melodies of division.

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