PORTLAND — A weekend of performances, demonstrations and sharing aimed at getting people to appreciate the creative arts – from music to literature, to comedy and film – is planned as part of Waking Windows Portland.
The lineup features a mix of international, national, regional, and local talent with more than 100 bands, DJs, writers, comedians, performance artists and others at 18 venues across the city Friday and Saturday, Sept. 21 and 22.
Waking Windows Portland has a “focus on (creating) community (and) showcasing emerging and underrepresented artists of all types,” according to co-organizer Peter McLaughlin, the music programmer at SPACE Gallery in downtown.
“We like to think there’s a little something for everyone. And, as always, the best stuff is hidden among all the names you don’t know,” he said this week. “There’s so many highlights, it’s hard to know where to start.”
Tickets for Waking Windows Portland are now available online and at all Bull Moose locations. There’s also a pay-what-you-can option available. Some venues are age-restricted, but most are open to all ages, with kids under 12 admitted for free, McLaughlin said.
Sponsors of this year’s event include Tandem Coffee + Bakery, Citizen Cider, Bayside Bowl, the University of Southern Maine, Maine Craft Distilling, Narragansett Beer, Lagunitas Brewing Company, Friends of Congress Square Park and Pretty Purgatory.
Waking Windows first began in Winooski, Vermont, in 2011, and since it was co-founded by a Portland native there were always a number of Portland-based musicians and fans who would make the more than 250-mile trip to attend.
Then, “a few Maine dreamers got interested in collaborating with the Vermont team to create a uniquely Portland version of Waking Windows. Now in its fourth year, (the local festival) has really developed its own identity,” McLaughlin said.
He calls Waking Windows, “a big, messy, celebratory event that can really highlight things that are happening between the cracks of the Maine music and arts community. I hope attendees hear and see new things, meet new people (and) have new experiences.”
“I (also) hope they get inspired to make art, make change, get involved in this community, perhaps join the Waking Windows team next year or perhaps create their own events and festivals,” McLaughlin said.
Waking Windows is for anyone who loves “the excitement of discovery and getting turned on to new things, especially outside of their comfort zone,” he added. “People should attend if they look down the festival poster and know only one name, or none.”
McLaughlin said there’s “definitely fun for all ages” and recommends that families take in the free, outdoor programming on the USM campus Friday evening and in Congress Square Park throughout the day Saturday.
He also recommends the Open Ears Showcase, which will take place on Saturday at 3:15 p.m. at One Longfellow Square. It features Portland-area musicians with developmental disabilities and “intellectual uniqueness.”
McLaughlin said he personally couldn’t “possibly pick just one band, performer, or event” as a favorite. “But, I can pick a feeling. Saturday evening, when the festival at its height … so many people (are)moving and creating and being together in the same space … all for community and expression and art.”
He said because organizers want Waking Windows Portland to “feel fresh and exciting every year” there are nearly no repeat performers year-to-year. And, McLaughlin said, “some of our new special events this year are deeply exciting, such as … an immersive, form-subverted fashion show.”
McLaughlin said the most important aspect of Waking Windows is the chance to “promote community and help bring people together across common bonds,” as well as the opportunity to “raise voices that are underrepresented and undervalued.”
The event, he said, provides “a platform for artists and musicians and creators of all types” and is an “incubator for ideas. (This festival is) crucial because without opportunities to perform, powerful work may not reach audiences … or, in some cases, may not be made at all.”
The goal, according to McLaughlin, is to produce a festival that has “a spirit of diversity, inclusion, and accessibility among our performers and audience. We program with great care toward representation, equability, and social justice, inviting input and involvement from a large mix of local cultural players.”
“We hope to produce a vibrant community event that celebrates Portland and Maine as a whole, while still challenging audiences, introducing them to diverse voices from around the region, country and world. Each year, we want to go bigger and better.”
At the Waking Windows Portland arts festival the idea is to “promote community and help bring people together across common bonds,” as well as help “raise voices that are underrepresented and undervalued,” according to organizers. This year’s event is Sept. 21 and 22.