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Together Boston festival promotes creative economy, music and fun

Posted by Chad O'Connor  May 9, 2013 11:00 AM

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[The We are the Creative Industries series: The Creative Industries - video game companies, design, marketing and architecture firms, and talented people who write books, design houses, shoot movies, make art and record music, just to name a few examples - are an important part of Massachusetts' economy, with $1 billion statewide impact and over 100,000 workers. Click here to learn more.]

For the last nine months, I've been working with a tremendous team of volunteers to plan the Together Boston festival and event, and it's coming up to the launch. This Sunday we begin a week-long celebration of music, art and technology which will take place at venues like the Museum of Science, the Museum of Fine Arts and at multiple music venues throughout the city of Boston, including the Paradise, the House of Blues and Great Scott, but keying in on the Middle East Downstairs for "Together Central Stage." Together Central will feature an explosion of music, art and technology unlike anything the city has seen, featuring artists who have the attention of the world: Four Tet, Zomby, Hooray for Earth, UZ, and owner of the #1 pop song in the UK, Duke Dumont.

Planning a festival like Together Boston is an epic task, one that requires a multitude of volunteers motivated by nothing else than the desire to help build community and a desire to see their efforts rewarded. And I have every motivation to see that they will be.

The crux of a city-wide festival (like Sonar in Barcelona, or Mutek in Montreal or, yes, SXSW) is in its daytime programming. Panels, discussions and demonstrations are vital to building the creative economy. Our festival is different from those mentioned, also, in one important distinction: Our panels and discussions are free and open to the public. There is no pass required to attend.

Sara Skolnick, a local DJ and organizer dedicated to building community, has taken on the task this year of making our daytime panels shine. She has been doing an outstanding job. In addition to running the "Best of Boston" dance night Pico Picante and working with the non-profit 826 Boston, she's been planning our week-long seminars and discussions. Ms. Skolnick represents the type of volunteer effort this festival embodies. I would encourage readers to visit our schedule and find a topic of interest and join us in the discussion.

There is also a litany of free seminars on the technology of creating music. As the tools for making and distributing music change as fast as the internet, musicians may feel confused on how to keep up. Our week of free seminars hopes to educate all musicians on these tools and give the beginner an entry point into accessing them.

Why do this? What's the point of all this? Good questions. I have some answers.

The economic benefit of a festival is proven, but the cultural benefit is a bit more nascent. The main idea is summed up in one word: Retention. Artists and creatives are constantly leaving the city for places that embrace their lifestyle and offer them a community outside of their house or the internet. Together Boston hopes to build an event and a community that embraces them. We hope we can define ourselves to the point that creative people anticipate the event each year, giving them something to look forward to, where they can showcase their work. Together is built to keep them here.

There's also another reason that can't be ignored: Fun. Boston has a reputation for poo-pooing fun, but as a longtime member of the community I can tell you there are pockets of fun going on everywhere, every night, all over the city. I liken Together Boston to a submarine surfacing. As a culture united, we represent a host of talented promoters, musicians and artists, all of whom work in and around the city on a constant basis. But once a year, we emerge, to perhaps disappear after Together is over. But rest assured, nearly everyone you meet at the festival will continue to do their thing all year round. This is a very large talented group of professional fun-havers.

Finally, Together Boston has been pigeon-holed as an "EDM" festival, and as the creator and founder of Together I'd like to explain why this is wrong. Despite the massive swelling of EDM related content and interest--it is indeed one of the only economies to expand throughout the ongoing recession--Together is not an EDM festival.

An EDM festival correlates to a typically long-weekend of partying. Of "raging." EDM festivals have headliners like David Guetta or Avicii or Tiesto. As much as I respect Mr. Guetta for his legitimate musical contributions to French House and pop music, we will never book David Guetta.

Our musical programming reflects the future. In year one, for example, we represented artists like DJ Rupture and Nico Jaar and Machinedrum, all of whom have gone on to further explore music's future sound, and, in each case, has been awarded critical praise the world over. Together will always program music that you should invest your time in. If you like it, we encourage you to follow these artists and contribute to their career. We believe in musicians like Duke Dumont, or local heroes like Andre Obin. We believe they have something legitimate to say in perspective to the world we live in. We like their music.

David Day is Creative Director and founder of Together Boston, a festival and event happening May 12th through 19th throughout Boston and Cambridge.

[We are thankful for Global Business Hub’s support of the Creative Industries. Please note: This article does not necessarily reflect the viewpoints of the Executive Office of Housing and Economic Development or its Creative Economy Industry Director for the Commonwealth, nor is it an endorsement of any views, products, or opinions contained therein. The author is solely responsible for the content.]

This blog is not written or edited by or the Boston Globe.
The author is solely responsible for the content.

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