August 19-21, 2016 is bound to be a weekend you surely won’t forget. Baltimore’s Fields Festival is happening, an outdoor music arts and performance camping festival experience that’s bringing people from across the country to experience its madness. In its second run – the inaugural fest happened in 2014 – its music lineup is expansive, covering multiple genres and including artists such as Wolf Eyes, Deradoorian, Dan Deacon, and Future Islands, among others. And that’s not all. There are also performers and events for poetry, theatre, sound installation, performance arts, dance, comedy, visual installations, food, wellness, and several other categories. We caught up with curators Amanda and Stewart to discuss this year’s event.
Fields Fest combines literally everything it seems. Where did you get the idea to create Fields Fest?
Amanda: Putting together a camping music festival was an idea that Stewart and I had both had for a long time, but combining so many arts into a single event was completely inspired by the rich and multi-faceted DIY culture in Baltimore. There is so much beautiful stuff going on, and we wanted to celebrate all of it. The total immersion in nature and all kinds of art for a full weekend is what really distinguishes Fields from a regular old music festival.
Stewart: Amanda and I had been independently developing a vision to have a camping music and arts festival that reflected the Baltimore DIY arts community and extensions beyond. When each simultaneously learned of a possible location for this event, in early 2014, we began to pursue this and a couple of week later realized we were both working on this. We then decided to join forces and work together to make it happen. This kind of occurrence is in many ways reflective of the Baltimore DIY scene – people with shared visions coming together to make magic happen.
After you had the idea, what was the process like to make it a reality?
Amanda: We assembled a small team of artists in town who we respect and trust, and we convinced them to trust and join in our crazy vision. Many many tireless, unpaid hours….. juggling a ton of moving pieces, crazy spreadsheets, long meetings, managing our friends, and occasionally the joy of brainstorming and discussing the fun stuff that was going to happen.
Stewart: A lot of work. Hard work. Fueled by generous spirit, brilliant minds, and loving support of people throughout the Baltimore arts community. All resulting in a magical event that exceeded our expectations.
This is Fields Fest’s second year. What changes, if any, have you made to the festival this year?
Amanda: The line-up is more diverse (pulling from a wider range of genres, ethnicities, and locations). We’ve added a new stage, a wellness/ambient zone (featuring massage, acupuncture, energy healing, plant walks, hypnosis, breakwork, tarot, and sound atmospheres), a campground recreation department (with a “jam barn” improv space, workshops/talks, face-painting, t-shirt tie-dye, water balloon fights, karaoke, kickball, and more), and an artist merchandise/camping store. We’ve also double our capacity to 2,000 people.
Stewart: There are a number of changes. For one, we enlisted a much more extensive and diverse network of people to help organize and run the festival.
Did you encounter any challenges putting this together this year or in 2014?
Amanda: OF COURSE. This is a DIY-run event, with no corporate sponsorship whatsoever. It is entirely funded by ticket sales, which means people are being compensated very little for the work they are putting into the event. This puts a lot of stress on the organizers and artists involved, who are trying to organize this event on in their “spare time” while working on other jobs and projects. We have come to realize that this isn’t a financially sustainable model for the future, so we would need to re-examine how the event is funded if it happens again. So, we need you to buy your tickets right now!
Stewart: There are many challenges and I honestly don’t know where to begin…or end
What was the most fun part of creating this festival?
Amanda: All of the brilliant people we get to work with!
Stewart: Developing and a shared creative vision with beautiful and talented people.
So the event is clothing-optional. How awesome! How did that aspect first come about?
Amanda: It’s funny because in my mind I assumed Fields was a clothing-optional space in 2014, though we’d never made any official statements about it. If people wanted to get naked they were always free to do it– I feel like this is part of a DIY attitude (where formal rules, such as public indecency, don’t apply). It also happens to be the case that the campgrounds host various alternative groups that have clothing-optional events, so a nudist group reached out to us and asked if we had a clothing-optional policy. We said sure and made a formal announcement about it (not thinking much of it), and people started buzzing about it. I’m excited to see how it pans out.
Stewart: We are just generally open to people expressing themselves in ways that bring them comfort and joy, so long as it does not otherwise harm others.
What is the atmosphere like at this event?
Amanda: Magical, serene, raw, chaotic, inspiring, meditative, transformative, absurd, childish, inclusive, loving
Stewart: A magical community of people expressing themselves in the most brilliant ways.
Only 3 day passes are sold. What’s the reasoning behind that?
Amanda: The spirit of Fields Festival is communal and immersive, and we want all attendees to join together and commit to this magical and transformative experience in nature for the weekend. You can show up for a day and leave at 99% of the other arts events that happen in this world, but Fields is a unique experience in which you have a chance to settle into a new home and psychic space for a weekend….. to be fully immersed in the DIY community and a raw explosion of art. It’s an opportunity to hit a reset button that reconnects you with the meaning of love and beauty and inspiration and the very essence of being alive, etc etc etc. Coming for just a day doesn’t do it!
What are you most excited for this year?
Amanda: For me, the intersection of the DIY arts community and the wellness/healing communities in Baltimore. I’m interested in how healing modalities and self-care parallel/inform/balance the raw states of inspiration and creativity that we experience in the arts.
Stewart: I am excited to embrace people in shared joyous spirit, before, during and after the festival.
How did you assemble the lineup? What was that like?
Amanda: This time around, we reached out and got curatorial input from some more diverse groups, and I’m really excited about what we’ve put together. I don’t know a single person who has heard of every act that we’ve booked on the bill, and that’s really awesome— this was a process of exposing myself to new local art, and hopefully the event will expose different people/groups/networks to new amazing stuff they didn’t know was going on in town.
The first 42 tickets were $84. Why 42?
Amanda: I’ll let this one remain a mystery.
What’s something you think everyone should know about the festival?
Amanda: We have hired someone whose sole job is to keep a fire going every night with S’mores to hand out, so we’ve got you covered on that.