The initial Threads All Arts Festival was born in 2016 out of casual conversation between a group of friends. “We were either always going to shows, or playing in shows, or putting on shows,” says Nicole Patrick, one of the founding members. “It was always a little sad after seeing such an inspiring show, to see such a little turnout.” Looking for a way to expose a larger audience to emerging local artists, she and friends founded Threads to reach more people with a two-day celebration of southeast Michigan talent. After the 2017 festival fell through due to last minute complications, Threads returns March 10th and 11th for its second iteration, at the Ypsilanti Freighthouse.
Threads 2018 features an eclectic collection of over 70 visual artists and stage-performers, including musicians, singers, dancers and poets. Artists include: becausefish, the Ali Bey quartet, Sunny Dulphi, Kulture Grenade, Aron Kaufman and the Dream Ensemble, ickyboy, Betsy Soukup and Nola Sporn Smith and many more. Local food and drink will also be available.
Learning from the original incarnation
“It would be stretching the truth to say we knew anything about what it would take,” Patrick says of their first year. None of the team members had serious experience producing events, but that lack of expertise had its benefits. Because the organizers weren’t limited by an idea of one right way to run an arts festival, they were able to conceive it based on what they wanted as artists. For instance, they decided the festival should focus on a wide variety of performances with shorter set times, rather than a few long features. That set-up encourages people who might have just come for one act to stay for multiple sets. “My dream is that people are writing down names of acts, putting little stars in their notes, and then going to check out those performers afterward,” Patrick says.
Making the move to Ypsi
After the Yellow Barn in Ann Arbor, the setting of Threads 2016, was sold, the team had a hard time finding another venue with the capacity for their vision. After landing on the Ypsilanti Freighthouse, the Ann Arbor-based organizers encountered concerns that the relocation was taking advantage of cheaper costs in Ypsilanti to give another paid platform to Ann Arbor artists. Several of the Ann Arbor artists who had been accepted responded by offering their paid spaces to Ypsilanti peers. One Ypsilanti musician who wanted to remain anonymous says of the issue, “Here in Ypsi we cherish the connections between the two towns, and the connections run deep. Yet we also know the differences in wealth and power between Ann Arbor and Ypsi. What’s ‘local’ to a UM student may be a completely different (or only marginally overlapping) world to what is ‘local’ for folks in Ypsi. If a festival is to highlight emerging local artists, maybe it should be organized by emerging and established local artists.”
After hearing those concerns, Threads re-opened its submissions specifically for artists from Ypsilanti, and has been considering what it means for artists to be responsible to local communities. Patrick says hearing feedback was an important step to the organizing team. “We’re super grateful to hear the concerns,” she explains,” because, luckily, we can change and we’re not set in our ways and in our philosophies. These conversations are probably the most important part of this process for us.”
$5. March 10-11, 2018. Saturday: 1-10:15pm, Sunday: 1-10pm.
Ypsilanti Historic Freighthouse, 100 Market Place, Ypsilanti.