Like everyone at WaterFire Providence, I am excited to see work progressing on The WaterFire Arts Center. But I am more energized by the new opportunities it provides for our organization. Yes, it will be many times more efficient to have all of our operations contained under one roof, and yes it will be nice to work in a properly finished office environment. But it is really the programming that will take place at 475 Valley Street that gets my fires stoked. It isn’t just me; all of WaterFire’s departments and staff are looking at new ways to engage the public, develop WaterFire as an event, and advance – as well as share – the art of creative placemaking.
Many of these roadmaps are still in development. “WaterFire Records” is definitely in that camp (even the name may change). But I would like to share it as an example of the kind of planning that is taking place to make the WaterFire Arts Center a valuable and productive resource.
Burning braziers and a body of water are the core of any WaterFire installation, but almost since its inception music has also been an integral element. WaterFire Executive Artistic Director Barnaby Evans has curated a music library which contains hundreds of albums, with thousands of songs selected for WaterFire. But not all of these albums are available to the public.
At a lighting, you may have heard “Dearest All Fair” by William Lawes, or “Summation” by Brian Johnson. These two songs and more were recorded especially for WaterFire. And while these were one-off productions, it is a tradition we hope to continue into the future.
In the past, recordings had to be produced outside of WaterFire Providence, meaning that the artist(s) must have had access to and knowledge of production facilities and techniques, a limiting factor for many talented musicians.
But The WaterFire Arts Center creates new opportunities for engaging with local musical talent. Its production facilities, constructed to make television and radio public service announcements, as well as the remastering of music for events, are also suited for the recording of local artists. With access to these new tools, I am looking forward to engaging with Providence talent. Providence has a thriving music scene. You can visit any show in town and find talented people performing, from classical quartets to noise punk bands. But there are also members of the community writing beautiful music with their families, or in their bedrooms, or maybe on the street. And they may not have the resources to share this music with the world. The WaterFire Arts Center will have these resources. And we want to use them. WaterFire is also in a unique position as a recurring arts festival to spread music live. If it is in a style which supports the installation, tens of thousands of individuals in a single night can hear a song as it is broadcast throughout the heart of the city. And we are capable of more than just sharing the music at an event. We are able to use the infrastructure currently used to connect our fans with their favorite musical pieces at the event to distribute these new recordings. If the artist is interested, we would be able to direct visitors to our music.waterfire page and then to an outlet for their work. For some musicians, this could be their big break.
Soon you may find new Providence-based musicians through WaterFire!
About the author
I've worked at WaterFire Providence since 2003. For the first 9 years of my career, I worked in the Production Shop learning all of the details that go into the physical production of the event. In 2012 transitioned to the role of managing WaterFire's social media and web presence. I now head up WaterFire Providence's digital projects including, web, social, databases, and our physical IT infrastructure.