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How 934 Fest is Planning an Even Bigger Event Virtually

Taijuan Moorman Taijuan Moorman How 934 Fest is Planning an Even Bigger Event VirtuallyDominique Larue at 934 Fest 2019. Photo by Karl Francis.
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Early on in the pandemic, 934 Fest started preparing for a hybrid festival, without knowing what September would bring. Now that the realities of the pandemic have become more clear, they’re taking things all-virtual.

However, that’s far from bad news. The festival is trying to provide everything for viewers virtually that they would come to expect from the festival, with some added experiences made possible with the new format.

The festival will move from two days to just one this year, but there will still be muralists and bands, with the addition of comedians, spoken word artists and new supplementary content for viewers.

“I think it’s worked out where people are going to be able to see more than they maybe would have at the fest because we’ll be able to feature so much in 12 hours straight that people can come and go as they want virtually all day,” said Riley Bayer, music committee co-chair for this year’s festival. “Rather than being there at the Fest for a couple hours and then being hot and tired and going home.”

Even before deciding to go virtual, 934 changed its selection process from hand-picked artists to allowing artists to apply for slots. There will be 12 virtual artist and band performances in total out of nearly 100 applications the festival received.

Very few things will be missed from being in person. The festival will still have vendors, as well as merch and beer for sale. And the opportunity to be virtual allows performers to reach viewers on a much wider scale than they would in person, in a variety of ways.

Because the music side of the festival will be livestreamed on Twitch, 934 is able to push artists’ social channels and even provide a virtual tip jar, courtesy of Can’t Stop Cbus. Plus, there are more opportunities for viewers to get to know muralists and artists through interviews, spotlights and other footage.

“The fun thing about being virtual is that we can include content that we couldn’t include in the past,” said Bayer. “So for example, we just got done filming interviews with a bunch of the bands, and we haven’t been able to do that. We also have a lot of really cool B-roll of the murals in progress, which is another thing that people wouldn’t be able to see during the fest in the past.”

Bayer says going virtual involved taking on a lot of big tasks, but festival organizers are lucky enough to know a lot of talented people.

A number of local production companies are assisting with the livestream and prerecorded portions of the festival, while volunteers will assist with hosting and setting of 934’s Twitch stream.

Bayer says this will be the gallery’s first time using the livestreaming platform, primarily used for gaming but other kinds of broadcasts as well.

“The other benefit of going virtual is we are kind of dipping our toes into all of these fun, new platforms that we could possibly use for the gallery and for events in the future,” said Bayer.

Bayer says she is excited for the festival to be able to reach more people than ever before, in order for new audiences to experience the sense of community among 934 artists and musicians or for audiences who may have had trouble getting the full 934 Fest experience in years past.

“Even though we would have liked to have to have had an in-person festival, I think this opens up a lot of new opportunities for us to grow as a gallery and as a fest,” said Bayer. “And we’ll hopefully have some sort of virtual aspects to our festival every year from now on, especially because we want to be accessible to everyone.”

Check out the playlist for 934 Fest 2020 via Spotify:

934 Fest will stream live on 934fest.org from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 12. Visit their website for more info.

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