At that time, there was a place called Context Studios run by Ed Montgomery, and I started an organization called the Improvisers Collective that had weekly performances at Context. There were 45 musicians, four dancers, some visual artists, and poets in the collective.
There were performances every Wednesday. The first set featured one musician, the second was an open improvisation led by the leader of the first set. It was a lot of fun and exciting. It felt like we were building energy around the music, but by the end of the second year it felt like the audience had stopped building. We were hanging out together and we talked about what was happening and what wasn't happening. I had been sending out fifty press releases every week and a hundred flyers. But the audience just wasn't building.
The Vision Festival is an artist-run festival - that was really important. There has always been a group of artists who have been involved in various aspects of the Vision Festival, especially in helping choose the artists.
I wanted the Vision Festival to become a place where you bring together all that's wonderful, to get to hear artists and great groups, artists of all ages, poets and dancers, so that you can get a sense of the scope of what is possible. In a sense it would be a kind of ideal zone. And there you are together with your whole community. To make the festival happen takes a tremendous amount of people to run it each day, and all of them are important. You bring all of these unique elements together and you get to hang out with each other, in a place where everyone is given respect. We are all together and we are having a wonderful time. The festival creates the opportunity. The heart of the Vision Festival music is New York-specific with New York's particular intense and spiritual connections. But even though this New York music is the core of the Vision festival, we don't believe that it's the only thing. It's about coming together. That's why we bring people from all over the United States and Europe. It's about bringing people together and making sure no one is left out.
The Clemente, Flamboyan Theater
107 Suffolk St, New York, NY 10002