From founder Scott Woods:
As I bump through my house this evening, surveying the carnage that planning and running a 31-day event has left in its wake, trying to piece back together what life without a show at the end of every day is like, thanks must be given. Holler was my vision, but took a city’s worth of execution to make it the historic event that it became, and that village includes:
Michael Vander Does and The Kate Schulte Foundation for non-profit wrangling as well as sound and venue support; the Greater Columbus Arts Council for funding and initial sound-boarding; and the resilient and humbling support of Elizabeth Woods. Thanks also to ColumbusMakesArt.com, Jim Fischer and Columbus Alive; Columbus Underground; and Fulcrum Creatives/Cause Collaborative for their various ongoing media blitzes.
Holler utilized nearly a dozen venues over the 31 days and many of those were in kind or increasingly sympathetic to the cause. Thanks must go to Lauren Emond and the Columbus Museum of Art, Mona Gazala and the Second Sight Project, the Columbus Performing Arts Center, Brothers Drake Meadery, Wild Goose Creative, Central Community House, Columbus Dance Theatre, Bexley Public Library, and the Columbus Metropolitan Library.
Special thanks must be extended to two very special venues: Art of Republic and New Harvest Café and Urban Arts Center, our stand-out black-owned venues, who are mission-based spaces dedicated to bringing the kind of experiences Holler presented to the city on a regular basis. We were happy to be in these spaces and to expose them to broader audiences that we hope will use them in the future.
Last but by no means least, a hearty special thanks must go to Mike Heslop and Kafe Kerouac who, when I suddenly found myself in need of covering many dates out of the blue, handed over his venue for approximately one third of the calendar, no questions asked. That level of sacrifice – in which he had to turn over a busy and frequently-used space in the middle of prime business real estate – allowed Holler to stay on track without missing a beat. This is not new behavior for Mike; he regularly allows me to come in and do all manner of things in and to his space because he believes, as I do, in the need for spaces in which new ideas and experiences can be directly engaged and challenged.
Praise must be offered to the Writers’ Block Poetry Night, without which I wouldn’t have had the courage or support to conceive of Holler. Writers’ Block has been my artistic laboratory for 18 years, and the support that the poets and audiences that make that show a success every week essentially gave me permission to pull the trigger on Holler. A special thank you to Louise Roberston, who handled the show in my month-long absence every week so I could focus on Holler without fear of destroying my regular job.
I want to thank my brain trust on the back end, who I won’t call out by name here (though I did create codenames), but know who they are and what they mean to me. I leaned on them as Holler was being formulated for insight or contacts, then found a few more of them as Holler started, and knew that if these folks thought I was doing something right, I was good. I owe each and everyone of them several drinks.
I wish to take a moment to applaud the audience, the people for whom this series was ultimately created for. It is the hope of nearly every artist to have their work recognized, and the audiences that came to Holler were, by far, the best audiences I have ever seen at art-based events. They listened, they questioned, they came over and over again, they were ardent ambassadors, and they repeatedly put their money where their mouths were. I went to every show save one, and saw so many people multiple times at various points that it felt like a family reunion that never ended. Shout out to my road dawg Karen Scott, who I believe saw almost as many shows as I did. I believe her count was 25 shows. In the same breath, I want to point out the handful of people who drove or flew in from out of state to sample some of Holler’s offerings: Chiwan Choi (L.A.), Lashaun and Anthony Kotaran (Detroit), and Leslie Thomas (Charlotte). It meant the world to me that there were people who saw this as something bigger than a Columbus idea, or that simply wanted to bask in what they knew would be amazing that they could only find here, the way our artists deliver it. They deserve badges and better nights out than I was able to share with them in the wearying haze of Holler. First round’s on me on y’all’s turf.
Here’s a big one: thank you to everyone who donated! Holler was an event in which every dollar was needed, and every dollar was used, and was unerringly supported by a staggering list of supporters from within and out the city limits. The freedom, malleability, and polish that was afforded each show is owed directly to this support, and there are all kinds of stories embedded in these exchanges, of which I am appreciative of every one. In conjunction with these efforts were the sacrifices of dozens of volunteers who stepped up to the plate and allowed me to stand back and focus on the shows themselves at no cost to their time. Each of your contributions was invaluable and I really need to put a few of you on the payroll moving forward, for real.
Finally, I need to thank the artists. Over the course of 31 days Holler – as designed – was to present around 65 or so Columbus-based black artists. As the month unrolled, that number expanded, not because I booked larger acts, but because in some cases artists took it upon themselves to draw in more artists to help them realize their vision. So what was perhaps a band of two became a band of five or what was a dance production for one became a village of disciplines. By the end of the calendar Holler put no less than 100 unique black artists on stages, and at least 18 non-black performers in support of those 100 performers. Community ruled the day and pushed Holler toward truly historic levels. Many of the artists did new work or expanded their boundaries at their shows. Many of them performed the best sets of their careers. All of them have doubled my respect for what they do. Some of the work that came out of Holler will be spoken of for years, and having been a Holler artist is now a resume highlight. While I cannot promise you will see Holler again, I can promise you will be seeing many of these artists on my bill in the future. Whenever I see one of the “class pictures” from one of the shows featuring whichever Holler artists are in the room that night, I tear up. And then I think, “All of these amazing people live in MY CITY.”
Holler was 31 days during which, if it occurred to you to partake, experience, encounter, be challenged by, or otherwise engage black art, you could. A third of the calendar was free. The artists ranged in politic, discipline, age, gender, orientation…the list goes on. I gave everything I had to Holler’s success, and received so much more back in kind. So I thank you, thank you, thank you all.
(Photo – Hemalatha Venkataraman)