If the first event of the 2nd Annual NX35 Conferette is any indication as to what’s to come, then you’d best find a good parking spot as soon as possible.
The first of several planned day panels kicked off today at 1 p.m. at Banter, a delightful coffeehouse and restaurant on Oak Street, just off the square in Denton. The place was buzzing both inside and out with local musicians, fans, lookey-lu’s and even a Denton City Councilman.
The impressive panel included moderator Lyndsay Knecht Milne (NBCDFW.com), Michael Seman (research associate, Institute of Urban Studies, UTA), Sarah Jane Semrad (president of Art Conspiracy; co-founder of La Reunion), Kevin Roden (Host of Drink and Think; Historic Landmark Commission of Denton), Robert Milnes (dean of the College of Visual Arts and Design, UNT) and Vicki Meek (manager of the South Dallas Cultural Center). The panel focused on how the DFW region faces the challenges that accompany growth, as well as medium collaborations, bringing leaders and communities together to help create awareness and what artists and venue can do to encourage new ways of thinking and living.
Unfortunately, due to the venue’s microphone issues, a car alarm that continued to blare every five minutes and the whizzing and whirling of the espresso machine left me with audio that’s nothing less than highly annoying.
However, Lyndsay filmed a similar round table with most of the same panel at the Texas Theater, which you can enjoy by watching the above video.
UPDATE: Just a few interesting points discussed during this roundtable that, I think, evoke a lot more conversation:
Kevin Roden: It’s not so specific to the DFW region, but if you consider the great amount of problems that face our nation today, when you think the economy, when you think of the environment, when you think of sustainability issues, when you think of homelessness, poverty, all these issues that confront our culture as a whole, what typically does our culture or society look to as the answers to those problems, at least contemporarily? It typically is, math and science. That’s going to be the saviour to all our problems, and so you see our educational system really focusing in on those two things in terms of their standards, for example you see the Secretary of Education promoting these things as late as yesterday. I think it’s important to think back about the history of science and history of math and think about the renaissance for instance, some of the greatest scientists and some of the greatest mathematicians of our western culture, were also some of the greatest painters, some of the greatest musicians, some of the greatest poets, some of the greatest writers, and they grew up in an environment that was essentially interdisciplinary. Even the old professors of today, I think, your old science professors, your old biology/physics professors are as equipped in Shakespeare as they are in music. So I think it’s important to realize that as we focus on math and science to help solve these problems which are essentially necessary for the problems that we face, but they are not necessarily sufficient to solve the problems. As we promote math and science, I think it’s important to realize the importance of humanity in the arts in order to give us a sense of awe, a sense of wonder, so that when we promote these questions and when we seek solutions to these questions, we have a real sense of creativity that’s required for that…so I think that when we look to promote math and science as the saviour to our future, I think we need to realize that those people need to be equipped with what the arts can give them, in order to have a real large vision…
Vicki Meek spoke about the importance of arts education in schools and community centers and the students whose lives were, quite literally self-proclaimed, saved by such programs and community support.
A huge part of this discussion was centered around the importance of a grassroots effort to individually educate our neighbors, our families, our co-workers and our friends on the exciting arts, music and cultural community that flourishes in Dallas, Denton, Fort Worth and North Texas.
Successful examples of projects such as Art Conspiracy and La Reunion were mentioned several times to illustrate the potential future for more successful collaborations that feature art, music, dance and other mediums, that will not only bring together a more racially and culturally diverse fan-base, but also booster multi-community support and interest.
As I type, the second day panel is going on. “Where We Hear Local Music” is a panel discussion as to where local media critics, radio hosts, music editors and television reporters find the music they play, promote or write about, and how best to catch their attention. Again, it’s a pretty packed house, and the panel discussion is equally as interesting and lively as the first one. This panel included moderator Nico Martini (host of American Highway on CBS radio’s The Indie-Verse), Andy Chandler (music reporter, TXA 21), Sarah Crisman (music editor, Pegasus News), Pete Freedman (music editor for the Dallas Observer), Eric Landrum (program director for CBS radio’s The Indie-Verse) and Mark Schetman (host of the Local Show on 102.1 the Edge).
UPDATE: Bottom line, these panelists shared a common theme throughout this roundtable. If you are an artist, musician or band, don’t be shy about sending them your CD’s, or your MySpace pages, or walking right up to them at shows and shaking hands. The entire panel offered up the fact that they are open, welcoming and excited to find great new bands and great new music. The sky’s the limit in this day and age of Internet options, recording options and the oh-so-strategic social networking.
Check out the rest of the upcoming panels and make plans to attend! I’m off to the Music Mixer at Dan’s Silverleaf, check back here later for more.