Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Arts Festival application deadline next Friday

The deadline is looming for musicians and artists to submit applications for the Druid City Arts Festival. Jan. 28 is the last day for local acts to apply for Creative Campus’ second annual event.

More than 3,000 people participated in last year’s multi-genre, two-day arts festival. The event will begin on Friday, March 25 with a 19-and-up pub crawl featuring local bands and will continue Saturday in Government Plaza, exhibiting artists, storytellers and local merchants.

“We are open to artists and musicians, students and non-students alike,” said Andi Johnson, intern coordinator for Creative Campus. “Our desire is to celebrate what the local artists do and to give thanks by showcasing their efforts, talents and successes in a communal fashion.”

Creative Campus donates proceeds from the Druid City Arts Festival to the Tuscaloosa Art Council’s small grants fund. These small grants have helped bring fine arts into local schools and also assist the Kentuck Festival of the Arts.

Controversy has surrounded this year’s application process because the Creative Campus organization originally charged a $50 fee per band to apply. Local musicians began sounding off about the fee on blogs and Facebook.

“It’s the average you’re going to get paid per band member if you play a show in town,” said Reed Watson, creator of local recording company Hackberry Records and drummer for Sparrow + The Ghost. “I want to believe that they are trying to do a great thing for the community, but when you attempt to charge artists to play and then tell artists that it’s a ‘great opportunity,’ I wonder if they aren’t more concerned with themselves.”

Blaine Duncan of local band Blaine Duncan and the Lookers posted his response to Creative Campus on social media. “We will not be completing the application process due to what we consider to be an expensive application fee. We do not question why you have an application fee. What we do know is that we cannot afford it.”

Duncan also stated that his band appreciated Creative Campus’s help, effort and vision and did not regret participating in the 2010 festival at all.

In December, Creative Campus stated they had received enough funding from the University and that the application fee for all bands would be waived. The application fees already paid by bands would not be processed.

“We needed to raise $2,000 in order to waive the application fees,” Johnson said. “While that goal was met, we still have not met our financial goal for the festival and are actively seeking additional sponsors.”

“They realized they made a big mistake, got a low number of applicants and then suddenly UA gives them more money, so they don’t have to do the fee anymore? It’s laughable,” Watson said.

According to Watson, the application fee controversy is part of a bigger problem in Tuscaloosa, a problem he calls “the disconnect,” which includes a complete misunderstanding of what it takes to be an artist in Tuscaloosa, an inefficient local arts council and amateurism shown by those throwing events such as the Druid City Arts Festival.

“Tuscaloosa has a real lack of understanding when it comes to local musicians,” he said. “I believe it’s because most people simply don’t care. With Creative Campus, I don’t feel like that was the issue. I think it was a major lapse in judgment on their part.”

Creative Campus states that it’s donation of almost $2,100 last year allowed for many other persons and groups to apply for a small grant through the arts council.

“The issues raised by the application fees are important ones,” Johnson said. “The DCAF team feels that it is imperative and essential that the community support all local original art. In fact, we are planning a community forum in which all interested parties can gather together to discuss these issues and how we can all contribute to the greater vision ­— a thriving arts scene in Tuscaloosa.”

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