Tony and I, the creators of Listen & Be Heard Poetry Café, decided after some deliberation, that now is the time to start an annual Listen & Be Heard Summer Arts Festival. We designated Saturday, August 18 for the very first one. Our usual way of doing things is to start working with the materials we have at hand and build it up from there.
One of the things we had to consider was the fact that many festivals and other special events in the city of Vallejo have been cancelled this year. One of the contributing factors to this phenomenon is the rising and prohibitive cost of insurance. Security has been cited as another issue. The organizers of the Vallejo Jazz Festival cited a lack of support for the event from the Vallejo community. Discord among downtown associations with different points of view has also curtailed the Wednesday night celebration, which will be shorter and have only one stage this year.
From our point of view at Listen & Be Heard, where there is a will, things get done, and usually not in the usual way. Here at the Café, located at 818 Marin Street in Downtown Vallejo, we will be featuring live music, poetry, storytelling and comedy all day and night. We will have fine art vendors set up their tables in front of the café. That much is guaranteed. How much bigger the festival becomes between now and then is up to the people who live, work and own property on Marin Street.
We are not proposing to close the street to traffic that day. Really what we would like to see is more than the usual traffic! We hope to get every landlord and business owner on Marin Street between Georgia and Florida Streets to agree to allow vendors to set up in front of their property/business. It being an “arts festival” vendors would be limited to fine art, crafts, musical instruments, and other arts related items. If you, the voters, want it, the city really can’t object.
We know who our neighbors are and will be paying each of them a visit in the next few days, (if they don’t read this article and contact us first.) There’s the Vallejo Naval and Historical Museum, Vallejo Music Theatre, Vallejo Artists’ Guild, several artists studios, antiques and boutiques and more. Every one of these organizations and people stand to benefit from increased visibility and exposure to new people visiting downtown Vallejo for the first time.
If each of our artistic neighbors plans a special event, or day of events for August 18, voila, we would have a summer arts festival! There are no extra forseeable insurance requirements because the festival, other than the vendors, will take place inside the arts establishements on Marin Street, who all, presumably already have insurance, and some have AC too! We would also not plan to sell any food or alcohol in the street. In place of that we would include local area restaurants on a festival map, to encourage visitors to patronize existing businesses.
Sometimes simplicity is brilliance. If you dream of all of Marin and Georgia and Virginia Streets being cut off to traffic and having a weekend long arts festival with several stages and more…keep dreaming while you set about putting the paving stones into place, one by one. Are you still with me? If so, please stand up and be counted. There’s plenty to do and not a hell of a lot of time to do it. Me, I’ve got five minutes before all the articles I have edited and lined up for automatic publication at 2pm West Coast Time will leave their queu and start their lives on the World Wide Web, (including this one.) Call me at 707-554-4840 and tell me what you’re willing to commit to.
For those of you who have never visited Marin Street in Vallejo. Please take a look at a slideshow by S.N. Jacobson.