Planning this night was like crafting a night of beauty. Unlike a wedding, I didn’t really have a template to work from. Yet, I really feel that many of the elements in what happened that night are things the church needs to be seriously looking into today. Some key factors in making the event an engaging experience…
– I held off on just asking any friend of mine to help out. I figured if the event is going to be diverse, than those leading and contributing need to be diverse as well. I was hoping to have as many circles and networks intersecting as possible.
– Prayer and interdependence. At first I felt like I was making some of my requirements for the evening too lofty, but word eventually caught on to more than we could handle. I was getting demo tracks and myspace links every day with people wanting to be a part of the event, which wil be fantastic for future events!
– Not everyone contributing was necessarily even from a common faith background. I simply challenged every artist to reflect on the theme of Solar Crash – what would it look like if heaven and earth collided? If not heaven, than their own concepts of paradise of a better world. The hope was that this would challenge artists to reflect on a profoundly biblical theme, without being religious in anyway.
– Performers and artists that were of a Christ-following background were told not to be explicit about Christ. Rather than simply declaring the name of Christ, my hope was that people would encounter the person of Christ, through the music, arts, and conversations.
– The Venue – I could have easily acquired a church venue for free, but I painstakingly looked for something different. Some art galleries in the distillery district were asking for 25-30 thousand dollars! I ended up stumbling upon the El Mocambo and getting an awesome deal (that’s a whole other story). Everyone from U2, to Blondie, to the Stones, to K-os, have been on this stage. I loved the grittiness of the nightclub, and it went along with the themes of convergence and redemption.
– I partnered with a causes worthy of our time. Raising the village in conjunction with Living Water International. We committed upfront we would find a way to pull off the event while giving 100% of ticket sales to the cause. We didn’t want people to simply be engaged and have a good time, but that everyone might be informed and involved with making the world a bit better.
– Risking a much smaller turnout, I told Christian’s not to come, at least not alone. Last thing we need is another event for christians anyways. The hope was to create a non-oppressive atmosphere for spiritual engagement.
– We made multiple points of entry. People were invited to a an arts night, a creativity night, a friend’s show, a party, a charity, etc.
– We used online technologies to engage and collaborate ie. wordpress, google docs, picasa web, facebook. (I looked into online ticketing but the 2-3 percent cut was too much for me.)
– I chose not to advertise publically. I realized there was no way for me personally enage hundreds of people in conversation, so the hope was to trust the community itself, and that everyone who was aware of the event, was invited and brought in by an intentional Christ-follower (Of course, plenty of people walking by heard the awesome music and paid to come in as well, which was great)
– Variety. I held out on many to have a wide variety of visual and performance arts. We wanted rock, hip hop, soul, dance, spoken word, paint, photography, sculptures, etc. I almost had a magician even, but things didn’t work out. The hope was that it might spark the god-given creativity within every individual that evening.
– We had collaborative art projects. Everyone was encouraged to make their mark during the night, and not to simply be a passive participant.
– Lots of other details to the preparation, but again, I can’t stress enough the amount of people who helped out behind the scenes!