Tag: live music

The Wurst Festival in Texas

Anthropos Arts–bringing music back to the forefront

By Celina Fontenot, Arthur DeVitalis, Mariana Muñoz and Claire Rodgers

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Arts education has been declining for more than three decades because of tight budget cuts and a common misconception that the arts are beautiful, but not vital to the core curriculum.

Extensive research shows that music education correlates to almost everything we want for children’s cognitive development and demand from our school system: academic achievement and social and emotional growth.

Dylan Jones founded Anthropos Arts in 1998 with a similar idea in mind. The program provides high-quality music education for low-income students. With the help of professional musicians from diverse music genres, Jones is able to give free music lessons to students.

“One of the biggest things for musicians is seeing kids perform and reliving their moments of musical discovery. We get to watch kids to relive those first moments, it’s like a milestone,” Jones says. “Students in poverty face more barriers than most students. We give them a safe haven and something intellectually challenging.”

Seventeen years later, Not only do students get instruction from professional musicians—some even Grammy-winning artists—the students perform at well-known music venues, and events like ACL Festival, SXSW, Shady Grove, Stubb’s, and more.

Aside from musical exposure, students are learning valuable life lessons that prepare them for college and the real world. Involvement in the arts is associated with gains in math, reading, cognitive ability, critical thinking, and verbal skill. It can also improve motivation, concentration, confidence, and teamwork.

Andres Rios, 18, performing at the Pecan Street Festival.

Andres Rios, 18, performing at the Pecan Street Festival.

Andres Rios, an 18-year-old graduating senior in the program feels he has grown immensely from his time at Anthropos.

“When I started Anthropos Arts I had a lot of anxiety with playing in front of people and being in front of a crowd in general. This program taught me how to stay in control and keep comfortable in those types of environments. I feel that music benefited me by making me more creative and expressive in the classroom. It even helped with my public speaking because of my experience of being in front of crowds.”

Carla Pantoja, a 19-year-old graduate from Anthropos reflects on her positive exposure from the arts program.

“I don’t know where I would be if I didn’t play music. I don’t think I would be in college or would have graduated from high school.”

When Jones first started the charity, he didn’t realize what the outcome results would be.

“Now we’ve done it and I’m in year 17 and it works. I encourage people to support. Like these schools, we’re underfunded and need money to help bring these resources to these kids—and it’s a no brainer, we have one of the biggest music scenes here in the world. And we have tons of kids and its absolutely crucial to their development.”

Over the past five years, 100% of their senior students have graduated from high school, and more than 80% enrolled in college on scholarships. There are currently 150 kids on 18 campuses and will have around 20 concerts this year.

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Inaugural Stargayzer Fest Celebrates Austin Queer Community

Final Year of West x West Campus

Dudeman

“Dudeman” photo by Britni Shaw

By Elyana Barrera, Chelsea Bass
Bryce Gibson and Britini Shaw

In the middle of West Campus’s labyrinth of high-rise apartment complexes and just weeks before Austin’s massive South By Southwest Conference, students and young locals gathered for the fifth West By West Campus festival. Showcasing filmmakers and artists, the block party with a do-it-yourself attitude was hosted by cooperative housing groups on Feb. 21-22.

Started in February of 2010, the festival began as a way for underaged bands and concertgoers to celebrate with their own all-ages free shows according to director Tessa Hunt. Now in it’s final year, West By West Campus has grown to include a film festival portion where eight short films submission are chosen and then judged by a panel on day one of the festival.

The heart of the festival, however, remains to be its second day music portion, where 36 bands played at co-ops, starting at noon and ending at 10:30 p.m. Cooperative housing French House, 21st Street Co-op and Pearl Street Co-op were the three venues hosting musical talent including Super Thief, Magna Carda and the Numerators. The vibrant, bohemian interiors of the co-ops, along with do-it-yourself zine-style posters served as an apt backdrop to West By West Campus’s engaged yet cool crowd.

From looking at the abundant amount of people enjoying live music at the festival, it would be impossible to tell that lack of funds almost kept West By West Campus from happening this year. Usually paid for out-of-pocket by founders of the event, the cost of hosting along with permits and port-a-potties, became a problem that needed to be solved. Jennifer Gritti, social media/donations/strategy manager for West By West Campus, saw a solution in starting a “kickstarter.”

“We decided to fund the event through kickstarter so we didn’t have to deal with corporate sponsors,” Gritti said. “Not only did corp. sponsors kills the vibe of the fest last year, they were a bit difficult to work with and didn’t quite share our same vision. As our last hurrah, we wanted to take it to the people, and if they wanted to help, we would give them that option.”

Gritti used Kickstarter, a website that helps raise funds for independently-run projects by many, small donations, to raise the baseline of $3,000 needed to run the West Campus festival.

“Admittedly, we’ve never asked for your help in the past, but this year we’re going to need it,” Gritti posted on the West By West Campus Kickstarter page. The page was able to bring in $3,140 from 168 backers, 109 of which pledged only $5-10. Although the page was set up in the middle of January, the $3,000 goal was not reached until just 15 hours before the cutoff date of Feb. 7. The event also received monetary donations outside of Kickstarter from small local businesses such as Bodega and keg donations from Circle Brewery.

Gritti guessed approximately 1,500 people attended the event throughout the day.

“The turnout this year was great,” Gritti said. “We don’t have any numbers, but the people that wanted to be there were there and thats what really mattered.”

Though the funding for this year’s West By West Campus was reached fairly easily, the founders of the festival do not want it to stray too far from its roots and have still decided that this is its final year. Gritti and Hunt cite preserving the integrity of the festival as the reason founders of the fest have decided to end West By West Campus in its fifth year — they want to see other young adults starting their own festivals and they hope the spirit of West By West Campus can inspire.

Videography by Bryce Gibson. Photos by Britini Shaw and Chelsea Bass. Blog post by Elyana Barrera.

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