16 Apr Kat’s Korner: One Mic Conversations (RECAP)
In looking back on my involvement in the One Mic festival, I can’t help but smile a little as I reflect. What initially seemed like an unorganized attempt at “including the locals”, eventually morphed into a somewhat well-oiled machine of creatives with one mission in mind-highlight the positive and represent the culture. Yes, there are definitely things that could have been done better, but I am proud with the overall arc of the festival and really hopeful that this is in fact, the beginning of something special.
The State of the U: There was so much leading up to this panel, that I was a little nervous once the day finally arrived. There had been some intense criticism via social media of the festival regarding the lack of significant DC presence when it came to festival performances and there was an expectation that there would be a ruckus once the panel finally happened. In actuality, what transpired was one of the most honest and engaging discussions I have seen to date regarding the effects of gentrification on the DC music and arts scene. It was a big panel, but I felt that the story of U Street couldn’t be reduced to a few folks. There needed to be a continuum in terms of length of artistic service. All of the panelists were still active in their respective professions and had ‘been there” in the beginning of what would be considered one of U Street’s last golden ages. The night was filled with remembrances of the U Street of yesteryear and the moments of realization that things were in fact changing. One of the major takeaways (there were so many) had to be when spoken word artist Raquel Brown likened the changes along the U Street corridor to being “buried alive”. For her, the fact that of development came at the price of historical erasure even while artists were still creating. Powerful metaphor for sure and one that even a week later, still haunts me.
These conversations were just the beginning. I hope as we continue to build that we can revisit many of the themes discussed over the course of the three-week festival. I learned a great deal about myself and my process and am thankful for the opportunity to work on such a ground breaking effort. That being said, it only make sense to end on a note of thanks to: Hi-Arts, The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Creative Ecosystem, LSP, Hans Charles, and all of the panelists and moderators for supporting and trusting my vision. As soon as the videos are ready, they will posted for your viewing pleasure. I am sure once many of you have watched, the conversations will continue.