If Providence is to become the "Creative Capital" of Mayor Cicilline's latest marketing campaign, it will take more than a few orange P's affixed to politicians' lapels and plastered on signs about town.
The P, symbol of hizzoner's branding push, has its place — whatever the snickering about the pricey, out-of-town marketing contract that produced it.
But if the city is to thrive as an arts and design center, it must find ways to funnel capital to its creatives. The starving artist must be fed.
That's the mission, more or less, of the Arts and Business Council of Rhode Island. The non-profit group links business volunteers with arts organizations that could use some help managing their dough and runs ArtTIX, a marketing and box-office service for small performance groups.
But it also aims to bring Providence's teeming underground to the surface with IndieArts: a blog with all the latest on the Renaissance City's ragtag crew of experimental artists, rockers and burlesque acts; a web site for mp3s from local musicians; a spot for a little arts and political criticism.
"There's this whole bubbling, young, energetic group of people doing amazing things," said Peter Bramante, executive director of the Arts and Business Council.
Trouble is, all those uber-hip, underground artists can have difficulty finding an audience for their uber-hip, underground art. And that brings us, dear reader, to the second annual IndieArts Fest, slated to run in and around Kennedy Plaza on Saturday, July 18 from 12:30 to 11:30 pm.
The event (which is co-sponsored by the Providence Phoenix) is in part a celebration of the silly: there is, for instance, the General Burnside's Best Facial Hair Contest, which promises to summon the finest in Rhode Island mutton chops (and, perhaps, "friendly mutton chops," which connect the choppery by way of a "friendly" mustache like that favored by Civil War General Ambrose Burnside himself).
There will also be a workshop on the music industry. A market for jewelry, artwork, posters and such. A roller derby showdown. A film showcase. And a healthy helping of beer. You've got to have beer.
But the festival is, at its heart, a showcase for a talented passel of local musicians and DJs in search of a broader public. There are several electronic acts — Triangle Forest, Llove, and Sensitive Hearts (nee the Awesome Brothers) among them. There are the 'mericans, skilled in 'mericana. And it could get a little raucous with Dirty Dirty and Chinese Stars.
So fluff that 'stache, young man. Perk up your ears, young lady. And head to the IndieArts Fest, where the "P" promises to get popping.