Since Ian Thornton launched the Huntington Music and Arts Festival in 2010, a growing group of inventive citizens and city officials has not-so-quietly set about making Huntington the most vibrant local music, arts and culture scene in the region.
I love people like Ian Thornton. They are my DIY heroes who who need nothing but determination and creativity – and a network of friends and good people – to make very cool things happen where they live.
This is just a local dude – a citizen. He has no more authority, training or official backing to put on a festival than anyone else in Huntington, but he did it. What he was able to do with HMAF represents creative placemaking at its very finest.
People like Ian are guerilla, and their enemy is dormancy.
(You can meet Ian at New Story next month. Click the pic below to register – it’s free.)
The splash that was HMAF had a ripple effect on the entire city, sparking a number of other events, inspiring a number of other DIY champions.
And so now, in Huntington, there’s a whole bunch of “nobodies” and rabble-rousers running around with the philosophy that it’s better to ask forgiveness than permission.
And they are starting things – festivals, new businesses, zines, art, records, pop-ups, celebrations. Creative energy is contagious.
While there is always at least one Ian Thornton in any community, what is remarkable about Huntington is how the City of Huntington – capital C, capital H – has doubled-down on arts, music and culture as a bona-fide economic development strategy.
Now, they put on entire events that use arts, music and culture to revive interest from developers and businesspeople in struggling parts of town.
But, can noise, color and crowds really be a fully-fledged economic development strategy?
You betcha. At New Story, we’ll ask Huntington’s creative community and city officials how The Huntington Party Effect is actually reviving areas of this fantastic little city that is bursting with chutzpah right now.
There will also be a session on “How to Start Your Own Festival,” where the leaders of this Huntington DIY movement, and a few of their peers across the state, will be there to talk to you about the mess, noise and beauty they are splashing around in their remarkable, rebounding city, and what you can do to spark something new where you live.
New Story is always free, inclusive, and eager to meet you.