Octavia - part of the Promotion Team
Renn - part of the Creative Team
June 2, 2022
Jam Session / 16:00 ~ 18:15
Milda Deltuvaite / 18:30 ~ 19:15
The Soy Boys / 19:30 ~ 20:15
Rommy Gabay / 20:30 ~ 21:45
Coco Coquelicot / 22:00 ~ 23:30
Moxes / 23:30 ~ 01:00
Price: € 8 EUR / Person
Reconnect Festival is a non-profit event set up by students from the Arts, Culture and Media course in Groningen. The emphasis of the festival is to reconnect with old friends, other students and artists which takes place in Loods on the 2nd of June.
The New Current is honoured to have had the opportunity to talk with Octavia & Renn from the Reconnect team.
Hey guys, thanks for talking to The New Current, how are the plans coming along for next weeks Reconnect Festival?
Octavia: Hey there! It is a pleasure to talk to you! And thank you so much for having us! It is an honour to have our festival featured on your platform!
Our plans are going very well! We just had a very successful clothing sale on Thursday, 26th of May, where we got to know our audiences better and gave them a glimpse of what Reconnect will be like. Since the clothing sale event was so fun and exciting, we are sure that the actual Reconnect experience is going to be even more enjoyable!
Apart from that, we still have multiple interviews scheduled with local Dutch newspapers, multiple social media features and multiple meetings with our crew members, where we work on the finishing touches for the festival set-up.
So, as you can see, we are hard at work to increase the visibility of our event, while also preparing for the start of the festival!
Is the pressure building up to the festival or is the team taking it in their stride?
Octavia: Of course, with the event fast approaching, everybody on the team is bound to experience excitement and stress, all at the same time. There is so much to do, especially in the last weeks before the festival starts, but I have to applaud my colleagues for taking this pressure very well! We have experienced quite some setbacks during the organisation of the event, but since the student team, the university staff and our dedicated and competent teachers have all supported each other in the process of sorting things out, it was easy to keep things running smoothly!
Thus, the morale is good and we're all becoming true professionals, at this point! Through this means, we want to thank the University of Groningen and our teachers for their support and for the opportunity of creating this lovely festival!
How did Reconnect Festival come about?
Renn: In the first weeks of the year, we were tasked to create pitches for potential festivals we could organize. In groups, a total of 4 festivals were worked out as presentations and we voted on which we would make a reality. Reconnect won! The idea to focus on music events after the pandemic was also part of another pitch, so this was clearly something that was in the front of our minds. The second-place pitch was an audiovisual music experience, and we decided to include some of these ideas in the Reconnect festival as well: mainly our audiovisual stage design where the audience becomes part of the performance through a projected live stream altered with all kinds of cool effects. The audience members can change these effects themselves even, which shows the integration of the Reconnect’s core of participation and the technological ideas of the second place pitch. And later of course the original pitch was added onto and changed during development. So, in essence, Reconnect was definitely generated by the whole class.
There is a fantastic lineup of local musicians taking part, how did you go about selecting the acts?
Renn: The creative team was responsible for the lineup, which was our very first step in the process. We decided early on that we wanted our music to be accessible and local, meaning that a wide demographic could enjoy the genres on offer, but that there was still an indie and unique flair about each. We also knew we wanted a transition from bands and acoustic acts to DJs in the later evening. With these parameters, each member of the creative team searched for 3-4 acts that could fit our event. As half of our creative team themselves were embedded into the local music scene, we ended up with an extensive list of talent and began to put together a preliminary program. Our musician members approached the artists they themselves were familiar with, or (as is the case for one of our acts), approached their own band members to see if they could play together at Reconnect. And in the end, our full preliminary program became a reality! We are very thankful to the artists for making our vision become a reality and giving Reconnect this chance.
What have been the biggest challenges you have faced bringing Reconnect Festival to the stage?
Octavia: Since we are all a team of students that organize a non-profit music festival, it was hard for us to gain enough visibility within the city of Groningen. Groningen is a very cultural city and a lot of events are happening in town during the summer. This has made it difficult for us to bring out our event in the oversaturated market of cultural events and festivals. In addition, our target audience is mainly young adults, which are all busy finalising their studies at the beginning of June.
But despite all of these challenges, The Promotion Team has managed to do quite an amazing job of partnering up with different associations (may them be cultural or student-oriented) and media partners that have helped the festival to gain more attention and popularity. The University of Groningen has also been a huge help in promoting the event on its website and social media accounts.
All of these efforts combined have helped with convincing other fellow students to take a break from their studies in order to reward themselves with the unique experience that our festival offers!
Renn: Organising a festival just after the pandemic is a challenge not just for us, but even for large companies and organizations. We’d heard during a lecture from an alum of our study, who works in the industry, that it was going to be harder than usual because people might still be cautious about going to bigger events, or might still have tickets left of festivals that were cancelled in the last couple of years. And of course, there are a lot of festivals popping up right now, so making sure we stood out and did not intersect with other larger festivals was an initial concern.
A challenge for the creative team specifically was balancing and integrating various and opposing ideas about the festival, both from our own classmates as well as in the context of the university setting that we were in. While we were working hard to set up this event, we also had to maintain an academic eye and try to deepen our understanding of what we were doing. Integrating the priorities of professional event organizing and academic research and learning was quite a challenge but I do believe we succeeded beautifully!
"...if Reconnect goes well and if there are people that are sharing the same sentiments within the organisational team, then the interested people could work on reorganising Reconnect Festival to become an annual creative gathering...". Octavia
What is the message you want to say with Reconnect Festival and what do you want to take away from this experience?
Octavia: For me, Reconnect is all about promoting joy, talent, creativity, community-making and the power of music in the city of Groningen. Thus, I hope that Reconnect Festival is going to be an excellent opportunity for creatives and audiences alike, to bond over the cozy atmosphere of our festival, but also over our talented line-up of artists!
When it comes to takeaways after the experience, for me, this festival has turned from an assignment into a passion project. During this period of passionately working around the clock for the organisation of the festival, I have grown as a person and I have gained more confidence in my abilities. I have also strengthened my network and I have learned many new things from my colleagues and teachers.
But apart from all of the lessons, I am leaving this festival with two more important things, beautiful memories and new friends! The organisational team of Reconnect feels more like a family to me, at this point, and I am so glad to have had the chance to work with all of these amazingly talented people! I genuinely wish them all the best in their future endeavours and I hope to keep in touch with all of them after the festival ends!
Renn: First and foremost I hope they enjoy themselves thoroughly and quite literally feel a sense of reconnection to the local music scene and fellow students (and other music lovers) in Groningen. I hope that our inclusion of an outside garden space, named the chill area, will make it easier to engage socially with people in and outside your own circles and make the event accessible and restful for those who might not usually be able to be in loud spaces for the whole day. Lastly, I hope that some of the attendees gain some knowledge and enjoyment from the various easter eggs hidden in our decor. The ‘house’ part of the house parties the event is inspired by is taken quite literally, and we decorated our spaces with everything from an entire living room, children’s drawings on the bar fridge, various garden decorations, and the very dutch specific home decoration tradition to hang a calendar in the toilet. Some of these decorations also include homages to underground musicians and house parties that are important to the genres we now enjoy day to day, and it would delight me if someone were to recognise a few among the family photos in the living room. Reconnect as a message then goes further than just in the social sense, be it friendships between students and artists or networking relationships that keep the music scene alive. Reconnect is also about being aware of the connections between events and musicians of the past and how they still influence us today.
Will Reconnect Festival become an annual creative gathering?
Octavia: Reconnect Festival is considered to be the graduation project of the Music students of Arts, Culture and Media; so, unfortunately, next year we will have to make way for a new class of Music students and their festival. This means that Reconnect, as we know it, might not continue under the same name and creative vision, but the spirit of the festival will surely carry on nonetheless.
But, at the same time, if Reconnect goes well and if there are people that are sharing the same sentiments within the organisational team, then the interested people could work on reorganising Reconnect Festival to become an annual creative gathering, separated from our graduation project. I would, for sure, love to work on this festival again, if given the opportunity! But it will remain to be seen if that happens, and until then we will just have to enjoy this edition of Reconnect!
Where did the idea come from for the Jam Session which seems like such a unique way to open a festival?
Renn: The Jam Session was actually quite an extensive debate amongst us in the first couple of weeks of development. We realised that we needed more ways to blur the audience/artist boundary and offer participation opportunities that were musical in nature. The idea of a jam came up as this was part of our experiences at our own informal parties, where someone just shows up with their guitar and music is made together. it would allow for potential interaction between artists and more musically novice audience members, something that we also wanted to encourage. Secondly, we realized that jam sessions were also something we’d been missing deeply during the pandemic and as such would fit our original pitch perfectly. The debate however was about the when and the how long. Some of our numbers were worried about recruiting enough people or had the sense that we should be able to guarantee the quality, which might be difficult for long hours of unstructured performance. After much discussion, we reached a compromise. Over the course of organizing and further developing our plans, I can say with certainty that all of us love and are confident in the jam session’s addition. Reconnect would not have been as genuine and thorough with our themes and intent without it. To connect it back to the pandemic, the jam session offers an open stage to all, and some people might have been waiting for such an opportunity for quite a while. Reconnect is not just for artists who want to return to their music scene, but also for those who wanted to dip their toes in for the first time and couldn’t for two years. We really can’t open it any other way.
Finally, what do you want your audiences to take away from this unique festival experience?
Octavia: As I mentioned before, I want our audience to enjoy all that Reconnect has to offer! I would love for them to expand their networks, find new friends and music and overall, have fun!
But more importantly, I want our audience to be inspired by the passion and the talent of the creative community of Groningen. I want them to see that working in the cultural sector, although it might be stressful and uncertain at times, is very rewarding and worth all of the efforts in the end!
Thus, I want Reconnect to inspire other art students and creatives to follow their dreams and artistic pursuits, no matter the setbacks that get in their way! And if, by the end of Reconnect, our audiences have enjoyed themselves and have been inspired to become more involved in cultural activities, then, Reconnect is going to be a success, in my opinion!
Renn: As I already mentioned social reconnection, the easter eggs, and offering first opportunities to musicians, I will focus more on the organizational aspects of the event. We know that a small number of our audience will be students who will one day do this same assignment. I hope that while enjoying our event, they can imagine themselves as future organizers and become inspired by what we achieved. I’m planning to stick around in this city (and in academia) for a little while longer and I am looking forward to what those who come after us manage to create, almost as much as I am looking forward to our own event. Diving into the deep end of live music organization was, in a word, terrifying, but I know that many of my classmates will take these experiences and organize amazing events and other such endeavours. I very much hope that I’ll be able to study them all, just like we’re studying our own. In the meantime though, I hope everyone enjoys themselves and our audience can truly feel the passion we’ve put into Reconnect.