MCLA

'Solid Sound' experience

07/10/2013

This summer's Berkshire Hills Internship Program (B-HIP) participants hit the ground running when they helped produce the Solid Sound Festival, a music and arts festival curated by rock band Wilco, and held at the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art (MASS MoCA).

While Wilco and MASS MoCA gained the support and expertise of talented arts managers during the three-day event, the interns had the opportunity to work hands-on at a world class festival. It was an experience that they would not otherwise get at the start of their careers, said Jonathan Secor, director of special programs at MCLA.

All 14 interns worked directly with the MASS MoCA staff. "They worked at box office, in the development office, at membership tables, for artists' services and in front of house," Secor said. "You name it. There was a B-HIP intern participating in a managerial position as part of the festival."

"Do you ever wonder how every vendor and stage gets electricity in the middle of a field?  How security systems are planned for a field with an 8,000 person capacity and no clear vantage points? How kilos of ice get delivered to a stage surrounded by hundreds of screaming fans?"  asked Georgina Brown (pictured right), who came to North Adams to participate in B-HIP from The Forest of Dean in the United Kingdom.

The key to finding solutions to those issues, she said, is creative thinking.

Brown served as the assistant to Sue Killam, director of performing arts at MASS MoCA, as she helped manage the sponsors, vendors and non-profit organizations. In addition, Brown worked with the head of artist services, and also with the production manager and crew to keep the festival running smoothly, "making the magic happen" from behind the scenes.

Another B-HIP participant, Molly Bloom of Sharon, Mass., who graduated in May from Ohio's Oberlin College, worked in MASS MoCA's Kidspace, where they held "Kidstock," a children's version of Woodstock. The 1960s-themed art projects provided for the children included hemp bracelets, "tie-dye" headbands and flowers, and bubble wands.

"A lot of the performing artists who were on-site for the festival came through Kidstock with their families and children, and I got to meet a variety of people from all over the country who traveled to MASS MoCA for the festival," said Bloom (pictured left, center). "Over 2,000 visitors came to Kidspace during the weekend, and we constantly had art projects to do and art to show off."

MCLA student Melody Rolph '14 of Francetown, N.H., was assigned to artist services. As a result, she spent the majority of her time with the musicians.

"It was interesting to see how MASS MoCA was able to bring in skilled workers for the weekend and how much they had to do to prepare for such an increased audience," Rolph said.  

"Clearly, a lot of stress comes with tasks that involve thousands of customers and renowned musicians," she continued, "but to me it is all worth it just to see a crowd come together at night, in front of a glimmering stage, cheering and rooting in silence for their love of music."

Brown said the four days she spent as a crew member were invaluable.

"To be given responsibility and have top industry professionals put their trust in you is the best way to learn," she said. "From production crew to management, volunteers to vendors, artists to sponsors, every festival-goer I met was so excited to be there."

Rolph agreed.

"To me, there is nothing better than a relaxing summer day full of good foods, vibes and music, and that is something I would love to share with people for the rest of my life," she said. "Working with artist services helped me to see how a festival is run."