New York is “the city that never sleeps”. New York is busy; even crazy busy. There are those who are busy because they are pulling shifts at Kings County’s trauma center or barely scraping by on three minimum wage jobs. Then, there are those of us driven to be busy because we have some compelling desire to make something. We are driven to make some noise — even a bit of a ruckus.
That’s where the brains behind the September 29th event RUCKUS NYC: art + the web | conference + concert (Kevin Clark, Victoria Nece, and Zach Herchen) spring into action. Their pitch: “Art matters. And it’s hard. So we’re bringing a bunch of amazing people together to talk about how they make their art, get it online, and build a career.”¹ The landscape of art-making is changing fast. The way that we think about art, make art, pay for our art, and the way we tell people about our art are all vastly different from even just a few years ago. When I asked Kevin about these changes, he replied,
I feel like every week in the last year someone else has reinvented how to make art, and how to get audiences excited about it. Louis CK, Amanda Palmer, the growth of games on Kickstarter, Kim Boekbinder and Rabbit Rabbit Radio. The main thing all this tells me is that people are getting more and more comfortable with the new models for supporting and experiencing entertainment. Kickstarter started in 2009, but in the last year the number of people who are comfortable using it has skyrocketed. Watching this change happen is incredibly inspiring.
RUCKUS began in January 2012 as a “multimedia variety night” held at Exapno, a music community/co-working space in Brooklyn, featuring two dozen artists in one evening. A cast that big meant a lot of time spent on sound checks. That got the RUCKUS crew to thinking, “why not bring in arts and tech leaders to tell their stories during the day while the sound checks were happening?” Taking a page from the “unconference” handbook, RUCKUS is an intense event with discussions, demos and interaction from participants who are the main actors of the event while inviting some main players to jump-start discussion. Here is a look at their current line-up:
- Janet Brusselbach, Painter, Teleportraiture
- Jack Cavicchi, Writer, Designer, eBook publisher
- Kevin Clark, Composer, Producer
- Pablo Defendini, Designer, Product Manager for Creative Edge
- Thomas Deneuville, Composer, Founder of icareifyoulisten
- Lainie Fefferman, Founder of Exapno
- Rachel Fershleiser, Literary outreach for Tumblr
- Nick Fox-Gieg, Eyebeam fellow
- Selena Juneau-Vogel, Fractured Atlas, Manager of Artful.ly
- Stephen Neary, Story Artist, Blue Sky Studios
- Victoria Nece, Animator and Designer, The Documentary Group
- Lisa Niedermeyer, Fractured Atlas, Manager of NYC Performing Arts Spaces
- Yougna Park and Jacob Krupnick, Producers of Girl Walk // All Day
- Sara Eileen Hames, Editor-in-Chief, twenty-four magazine
- Annie Werner, Arts outreach for Tumblr
Now for the concert part of concert + conference! According to their Kickstarter, “The RUCKUS NYC show [September 29th at Cooper Union] will have everything. Or at least as much as we can fit onto a stage in a single evening. Chamber music, animated films, rock bands, dancers and digital projections will all play a part. You’ll get short tastes of a lot of different things – the best of what we have to offer.” Check out some of the performers:
- Deb Oh & The Cavaliers, Piano-driven Rock
- Chad David, Comedian, Master of Ceremonies
- Florent Ghys, Composer, Bassist
- Zach Herchen, Acting Alto Saxophone
- Adam Hopkins, Jazz Bass
- Sylvana Joyce & The Moment, Gypsy Rock
- Kings, Queercore Alt-Country
- New Morse Code, New Chamber Music for Marimba & Cello
- Jody Redhage, Cellist, Singer, Composer
There are some that malign this sort of “busyness.” Those that suggest that it is some sort of existential reassurance against emptiness. But, I have never believed that about people who are driven to make art. In fact, I bet that all of those names listed above are not making art to avoid; but rather, to connect. I support their desire to create a ruckus in which we come together in a community – the sort of community that works together to make everyone’s art better and more rewarding.
I highly suggest you consider giving to their Kickstarter – (if for no other reason than to giggle at their hilarious video.) Plus, keep an eye out here for a review of the event. If you have any ideas for discussion topics I can take with me, please share them in the comments below. If nothing else, I hope that you’re inspired to create a little ruckus of your own wherever your home base is situated these days.