Its not like I haven't mentioned any "whys" when asked. I just never go deep because I thought the answers would bore everyone to death. Afterall, no one asks WHY the Grammys; WHY the Oscars; WHY the Tonys; WHY the Pulitzers; WHY about any of the other awards programs for the arts and whatnot.
Or maybe they do and I was never listening.
But a conversation with Leo Brown (and, in retrospect, every journalist or TV anchor or radio DJ who ever said "Why did you decide to do this?") has made me re-think my hesitance in openly exploring this with the public.
Sooo....I'll elaborate later, but for now, a DOZEN reasons and goals:
1) Use it as a vehicle for musician networking.
The idea of putting musicians who otherwise might never hear (or hear of) each other in a room together at least once a year is, I would think (at least from an artistic perspective), both obvious and compelling.
2) Use it as a vehicle to honor the entire music community.
A way to acknowledge and honor more than just styles of music (like the Grammys) or individual musicianship (like interest/instrument specific magazines) or similar...but instead to recognize and honor everyone from the industry side (studios, retail shops, venues, management companies, repair shops, etc) to styles and individual excellence and, of course, music lovers. In a word, the entire music community, not one small part of it.
3) Use it as a vehicle for professional development.
Expanding the awards night into a full-blown weekend of professional workshops and clinics covering everything from aspects of the music business (legalities like copyright, publishing, & more) to presentation (from fashion to stagecraft) to expert talks on songwriting, improvisation, future trends, booking tours, and much more.
4) Use it as both a vehicle for culture and commerce.
Culture drive commerce. And a more unified music community can also help to unify the entire arts community (dance, fashion, visual arts, and more).
5) Use it as a vehicle to launch other artist-aiding projects.
A nexus from which to expand into events like the Lexi-Fest Concert Series (we've organized dozens of these shows in Lexington, Georgetown, Richmond, Frankfort, and more since we kicked this series off, and raised money for non-profits like Greenhouse 17 and others) and other ways to provide performance opportunities and revenue streams for artists; drive music fans to live shows at all the area venues; more work for sound techs; and the like.
6) Use it as a vehicle to educate AND entertain.
If you've been to an awards show, you've seen how different the performance line-up is than any other awards performance lineup anywhere, at any time. Rock, jazz, folk, classical, country, pop, bluegrass, and more! All of us (event organizers to professional players to music fans) get an education on the depth and breadth of not only area music, but music as a whole.
7) Use it as a vehicle to raise money for arts programs.
Specifically, one goal is to raise a substantial sum each year, have central KY high schools submit an application, and choose a different winner each year to donate to their school music program.
8) Use it as a vehicle to expand artist opportunities.
One goal is to have every winner (and later down the road, every nominee) be guaranteed a slot at a regional festival. For example, bluegrass winner secures spot at major area bluegrass festival; rock winner secures slot at rock festival; jazz winner secures slot at jazz festival. Forecastle, KY State Fair, Masters Musician Festival, Bourbon & Beyond, Blues Between the Bridges, Festival of the Bluegrass, Abby Road on the River, Great American Brass Band Festival....and on and on and on.
9) Use it as a vehicle to connect with other arts programs.
Yeah...from music orgs like KY Music Hall of Fame to organizations focused on theater, fashion, and the like. Think what this could turn into! We already work closely with the Lexington Fashion Collaborative on the awards show and want to expand these associations rapidly.
10) Use it as a vehicle to "raise all boats".
That is, no one working in music today should be making 1985 pay rates. Not the venues, not the players, not the agents, not the sound techs, not the recording engineers.... Let's fix this.
11) Use it as a vehicle to promote excellence.
I actually don't care for most awards shows. The idea that something so subjective as artistic value would be reduced to a mere popularity contest (whether its something popular among the general public or the arts community doesn't change that awards are predominantly such contests) just rubs me the wrong way.
But then I got to thinking....
And I was willing to try it if it would give me social capital to help other artists. And so I tried it. And it worked, in that its secured me leverage to do a lot that I could never have gotten accomplished (see above list re: Lexi-Fest Concert SEries, et al) without such a show.
And then I got to thinking more...
And the reality, whether we like to admit it or not, is that sometimes competition helps keep us on our toes. Helps us up our game. Helps us seek artistic excellence. And, if conversations with shop owners and musicians and arts orgs and DJs and such is any indication, its worked here, too.
The big trick is keeping that competition HEALTHY and not allowing it to become corrosive.
12) Use it as a vehicle for my selfish agenda.
Hahaha! Which is to say, I also have a few selfish reasons.
I suppose, given the goal-setting outlined above, I should be equally transparent with regard to my personal reasons.....which reduce to, really, one prime mover.
At the risk of ending on a low note, I am of the age where mortality is no longer conceptual. I've watched music peers cross the bridge, as it were, too many times in the past decade. And so my ego, I suppose it is, demands that I build something (and do something)....unequivocal.
Bluntly, if I were gone tomorrow, I'd want to leave something for which my kids and grandkids can be proud. Something crucial and positive for the community that they know I built with my bare hands...but not alone. Something that forced me to reach out and build partnerships and relationships and friendships to create something that will last and continue to grow.
Something that they will look at long after I'm gone....and make them smile.