2017 Content Hub
The content of any “burner” event is up to you – the responsibility of the Content Hub is to stuff it all in there. The Content Hub is responsible for empowering artists and participants at Youtopia by managing art grants and camps. We layout the city, draw the map and handle placement of theme camps in a way that allows for the most flow. While most of the responsibilities are working directly with participants Content must also coordinate with other departments for fire safety, sound restrictions, generator and porto placement, etc. Remember, YOU are the gift and we’re only there to help you shine!
The Content Hub has two hub co-leads (Curt & Kerrin) and the Content Admin (Jasmine). Since this hub is almost a year round position with a ton of moving parts having two hub leads and an admin is crucial to getting the job done without burning out any one individual. It is also better to have more knowledgeable individuals during the event to help problem solve the myriad of issues that come up like placement, power, sound, parking, etc (there is no way of knowing what will come up so be prepared for just about anything).
There are 5 departments within the Content Hub:
1 – City Planning (Led by Amanda & Ramiro): City Planning is responsible for placing all of the camps and art at the event. While they aren’t responsible for what you bring they will let you know where to stick it. Taking everyone’s needs into consideration is important but they are mostly responsible for making sure the “city” makes sense – from sound to bars to food to art – a well designed city helps create flow and, if done right, should mostly go unnoticed. Another important role is to manage vehicles and RVs – given the topography of the site this is no small task. Everybody wants their car in their camp and the number of RVs seems to increase every year. In order to properly curate the visual landscape, allow these default comforts and keep roads clear they have to continually make changes to the approval and placement process.
2 – Art Curation (Led by Lisa & Heather): Everyone is an artist and has a story to tell – the AC team gets you the extra financial assistance needed to bring it to life. Your gift can be sound, food, drink, a performance, something beautiful or questionable – the job isn’t to judge it’s simply to help you bring your vision to share with all of the participants at the event. From preparing the process to managing the applications to setting up the review sheets to leading the grant committee to making sure the checks are sent the AC team works hard to ensure that our art grant program continues to evolve as one of the most robust in the BM regional network.
3 – Playshops (Led by Ali): YOUtopia is many things and it’s entirely up to YOU – from sunrise yoga to YOUtalks to clowning around there’s something for everyone. Playshops helps you find the right venue and logistics for whatever you’re sharing so you can focus on being the star! Since its inception this department has changed as often as the leads who take it on. In 2017 they shifted focus and simply provided a directory of camps who expressed interest in hosting your gift leaving some Radical Self-Reliance in “play”.
4 – Center Camp (Build/Strike) (Led by Kristin and Boone): Center Camp at YOUtopia has continued to evolve as we find the perfect balance that fits the needs and wants of the event. The build/strike team is responsible for setting up / decorating the area to their liking. This year CC was used as a central gathering place that provides comfort and shade, art, an art car / shuttle stop and Coffee & Ice. By removing performances and talks from the offerings it allowed us to free up volunteers and eliminate the need for a stage and soundsystem.
5 – Sound (Led by Shai): Trying to curate the shared soundscape at the campground is no small task and there is no way to please everyone on the mountain. We have developed sound restrictions for areas that not only protect our relationship with our hosts but also create spaces that appeal to the wide variety of participant’s desire. I think that sound has once again gotten out of control at YOUtopia – everyone has speakers and thinks they’re a DJ. I think we need to cut down on the number of sound camps we allow and make sure everyone knows what the restrictions are for the area they’re in. Several camps didn’t care for their placement and purposely wanted to cause problems – not much we can do except not invite them back next year…or is there? We need to make sure that camps know there are consequences for not abiding by the restrictions like removal from the grid, telling them no sound at all and potentially asking them to pack up and leave early. I think Shai did a great job again this year with sound on the mountain given some people’s intentions to cause harm – to know more please read his afterburn report.
This Year’s Challenges:
The challenges inside this hub were once again numerous. For starters, every lead was new to their department (save one) and had to learn the job as they went while others realized they couldn’t give as much time throughout the 9 month process as they thought. The Producers are addressing this by conducting more complete interviews and allowing the hub leads more say in who is chosen for their departments – that said, even with job descriptions and expected hours being laid out it can be difficult to completely understand what you are getting into when you raise your hand to lead.
One of the other challenges is that this hub is public facing almost 100% of the time and have to square off with folks who believe that our decisions will “make or break” their experience. While we know that most of the “catastrophic” concerns are alleviated once the gate opens and people see the scope of our vision, it doesn’t stop them from expressing their displeasure leading up to the event. Remember this:
It’s not your job, it’s your turn.
Those that raise their hand to lead at any given moment are you – they are a member of the community, they are artists, they are theme camp organizers, they are participants, they are your friends. I encourage the entire community to remember this and try to speak to those who raised their hand in a manner that they would appreciate when it’s their turn in the barrel.
What went well?
What we did well was persevere. The process may not have been easy but what we created was beautiful. Every department in this hub made some major changes and have ideas about more changes in the future. While some of these ideas are the no brainers others may take several years to completely tease out.
- City Planning and Art Curation worked together better this year and it made the process easier. I still believe that these two departments should be separate from everything else – there’s too many moving parts and they are too crucial to be lumped together with Center Camp or Playshops. I see there being one hub lead and a four person leads team, two focusing on AC and two on CP, but working hand in hand.
- Having an admin that focused just on Content was amazing! Jasmine helped manage and run the hub and was crucial when the department leads checked out. There is so much information that gets pushed through this hub and I recommend having someone in that position to keep it all straight. Mark Stottlemyer was also extremely helpful in creating and running the scripts in Google. Being able to get all of the info in our applications into clearly laid out forms / spreadsheets saves us a lot of time.
- City Planning continued to cultivate Indian Flats into an art destination and it was once again very successful. We added an anchor camp with a bar and fire art and that helped keep people around day and night. As always RVs and cars on the mountain are a challenge. This year we had all RVs outside of Area 1 fill out an application and then hand placed them on the mountain – the process could be smoother but that should work itself out if it continues.
- Art is what draws so many of us to these events and we pride ourselves in encouraging everyone to express themselves. This year the Art Curation team granted around $80,000 (some got returned) to new and known artists. The biggest problem we’re starting to run into is that artists are asking for larger and larger amounts of money. We either need to change how the grants are getting managed or make sure to evenly distribute the money between the the 3-4 committee meetings.
What could be better next year?
- Here are some things to remember / change for next year:
- We should also take a look at how much money we are giving to the big sound camps and possibly reduce that amount.
- We need to make sure the date / time of assembly completion on the mountain are well known and repayment of grant money is possible if not fulfilled.
- We need to make sure that all artists understand that the grid may not be available in time for them to assemble their project – they need to be self-reliant and prepared.
- A different challenge AC had was the Producers wanting to overrule some deadlines that were agreed upon and give the artists money anyway – this didn’t go over so well with the team. The solution that was finally agreed upon was to have the producers use their discretionary fund to give out these three grants without touching the art grant budget. Hopefully this gets added to the final budget for 2017 and some new guidelines are added to the art committee in the future.
- Our sound policy has no teeth and some camps would rather challenge those restrictions than abide by them – welcome to a radical self-expression culture. Some of the reasons we couldn’t get camps to follow the rules include a “we’re not going to buy in” attitude, the sound lead has no repercussions to enforce, more interest from the producers in defusing situations while not actually helping enforce policies and some camps not wanting to talk to their neighbors or use the resources they have at their disposal (sound lead, Rangers, etc).