1. A Conversation on Music Festivals (9:00 a.m. to 9:45 a.m. EDT)

Chris Dodd | Sound Off Festival | Canada

2. Festivals as Community-Making (10:00 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. EDT)

Chair: Victoria Cosby (Department of History, Queen’s University)

“(Post-)Christian Hardcore Community and Sensational Forms at Furnace Fest”
Andrew Mall | Northeastern University | USA

At Furnace Fest 2021 (Birmingham, Alabama), attendees traveled from across the U.S. and Canada for three days of emo, hardcore, and metal performances. Furnace Fest originated in the Christian hardcore scene in 2000, running for four years before folding. The crowd reflected this background: over 85% of survey respondents were in their 30s or older; similarly, 86% responded that they had grown up in a Christian household. But in 2021, if many were returning to Furnace Fest out of nostalgia, fewer doing so were Christian: only 39% currently identify as Christian. Participants (organizers, bands, attendees) were respectful, welcoming, and inclusive—far from the polarization that dominates public discourse in the U.S. As a nostalgic event with an engaged fan community, Furnace Fest provides a unique opportunity to think longitudinally about the work that festivals do for music communities. What aspects of the community that gathered at Furnace Fest make it meaningful? How do religious convictions—or the lack thereof—contribute to this community’s overall sense of belongingness? Based on ongoing, collaborative fieldwork in the Furnace Fest community, in this paper I build upon prior work that posits festivals as physical places for imagined communities (Mall 2015; cf. Anderson 1991 [1983]) and scenes (Mall 2020) to consider how music festivals, as sensational forms (Meyer 2009), substantiate musical community itself (see, e.g., Shelemay 2011).

“Cultural Festivals as Transformative Experiences for Well-Being”
Chanel Prince | University of Massachusetts Amherst | USA

This presentation will examine urban festivals’ ability to bring creative excitement to city life, providing a sense of well-being, belonging, and community through their transformative power. More specifically, it will assess community impact at the Afropunkfest while attending to the ways in which the global African diasporic community addressed central concerns around race, environment, and well-being in the face of economic and systemic violence.

“Performing Jewishness, the Making of Cosmopolitanism, and Cultural Diplomacy”
Jessica Roda and Sofia Doroshenko | Center for Jewish Civilization, Georgetown University | USA

How can we examine and assign meaning to publicly funded festivals that foreground invisibilized ethnic, racial, and religious identities by means of musical performances? Can we conceive of such programming as more than cultural appropriation and political opportunism? This paper aims to answer these questions using findings from an ethnography of Polish festivals of Jewish culture. It explains why and how a musical performance of the past can double as an instrument of diplomacy with which to promote a cosmopolitan image of a country while also nurturing a newfound nostalgia. This presentation therefore rests on a twofold analysis: 1) the power of music as a multi-sited instrument of political transformation in the globalized public sphere; and 2) the underlying mechanics of a phenomenon that is now a major topic of debate in the artistic press – cultural appropriation.

“Reading the ‘Coachella Way of Life’ Aesthetic and its Impact on the Music Festival Audience and Performer”
Cheryl Thompson | Toronto Metropolitan University | Canada

Using the film, Coachella: 20 Years in the Desert (dir. Chris Perkel and Drew Thomas which debuted on YouTube on April 10, 2020) as my object of inquiry, I examine the five chapters in the film – Chapter 1: Origins (1981-1999), Chapter 2: The Early Years (1999-2007), Chapter 3: Rise of the Robots (2007-2015), Chapter 4: The New Beats (1999-2012), Chapter 5: The Next Generation (2015 – present) – probing such music festival moments like the first Coachella ’99 in the aftermath of the disastrous Woodstock ’99, the rise of EDM, LED panels and the digitization of music festivals in the 2000s, and the presence of hip hop in the 2010s through to Beyonce’s 2018 main stage performance which made history as “The first Black woman to headline.” How has the “Coachella way of life” aesthetic both helped to grow the music festival audience while also whitewashing the contributions of Black artists to the festival circuit?

3. Cuban Serenade Podcast Episode Launch (11:45 a.m. to noon EDT)

Chair: Karen Dubinsky (Department of History, Queen’s University)

“‘The Cubans are Coming!’: ¡Afrocubanismo! and the ‘Artistic Coup’ of Banff”
Melissa Noventa | Queen’s University | Canada

4. On Songs and Festivals Across Time and Place (1:00 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. EDT)

Chair: Steven Maynard (Department of History, Queen’s University)

“Book of Rules: One Reggae Anthem and Its Trouble with ‘Tradition'”
Jason Wilson | University of Guelph | Canada

Attending festivals is not, for most, a passive act; it is instead, a celebration of a particular tradition and offers an opportunity for those in attendance to enact their own part within that tradition. And at the heart of every festival is “the song.” What happens, though, when “the song” troubles its own perceived particular tradition? Specifically, what happens when a song or poem written by someone in a certain place at a certain time, gets reimagined by someone else in another place at another time? Is this somehow nefarious, or is it what we artful humans have done for thousands of years? In this short film, musician-historian Dr. Jason Wilson traces the provenance of one particular text and shows how it was used to suit various traditions at different times. Written in the 1920s, the polysemous poem “Bag of Tools” would – as “Book of Rules” – become a recognizable staple in reggae music’s formidable canon.

5. Enacting Local Forms of Sustainability (1:45 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. EDT)

Chair: Ben Finley (Critical Studies in Improvisation, University of Guelph)

“Enacting Local Forms of Sustainability at the Guapamácatro Centre for Art & Ecology and the DGTL Festival”
Alicia Marvan | Guapamacátaro Art & Ecology Centre | Mexico
Lucas Zarzoso and Tes Miedema | DGTL Doughnut Festival | Netherlands

Abstract coming soon

6. Creative Green Tools Canada (3:15 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. EDT)

Chair: Greg Tilson (Skeleton Park Arts Festival)

“Creative Green Tools Canada: Using Data to Fight Climate Change in the Arts”
Ian Garrett and Devon Hardy | Centre for Sustainable Practice in the Arts – CG Tools Canada | Canada

Creative Green Tools Canada (“CG Tools Canada”) is a free online platform for arts and culture organizations to track and understand the ecological impacts of their venues, productions, festivals, and more. The Tools are powered by Julie’s Bicycle’s CG Tools which over 5000 organizations in 50 countries now use. Ian Garret (Director of the Centre for Sustainable Practice in the Arts) and Devon Hardy (Program Director, Creative Green Tools Canada) will share how CG Tools Canada came to be, how the Tools were adapted into the Canadian context (including prioritizing respectful learning and relationship building with Indigenous environmental knowledge holders), and how data can help the arts and culture sector make major strides in the fight against climate change.

7. Concluding Plenary Session (4:15 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. EDT)


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