A Reno festival with an offbeat focus

Reno has become a comfortable home for special events and the folks behind the Off Beat Arts & Music Festival are adding their own to the list.

They plan to focus on homegrown talent and bands with ties to the Biggest Little City. Think the beginning stages of SXSW in Austin, Texas, MusicFestNW in Portland, Oregon and Coachella in California.

“There is a lot of local music here we want to showcase and while Artown does a lot for the arts overall, we see a void in the special events here,” said Flip Wright, one of the three co-organizers behind Off Beat.

“There’s no focused music festival (in the area). We think there’s support for one. So we’re creating one.”

Along with local bands and musicians, they plan to include local visual and culinary artists. They describe it as a crawl-type festival that will make use of known bars and venues citywide to fill their perceived void and an entire weekend in November.

“And we have the perfect weekend for it in early November, which makes a ton of sense. It’s after the summer heat and before the snow flies,” Wright said

He offers a nod to the entrepreneurial start-up spirit in Reno and says this fits in perfectly.

And it will come with a motivation not only to grow the festival as other cities have, but also to grow the arts here. A portion of the proceeds will go to Future Kind, which funds music and art programs in the schools and in the community.

Future Kind is a program that offers programs that weave together music, creativity and environmental projects and many target future musicians and artists in high school. So in theory they’ll be helping grow the next generation of artists and musicians who someday may even be a part of the festival.

As for the budget, they are piecing it together from many small companies rather than one or two large sponsors, said Wright. The organizers have about 10 local venues on board so far and are matching up talent with the venues. And they have an eclectic mix in mind from indie-rock to folk-rock to hip hop and funk.

“We’ve made a conscious decision not to go after big sponsorships, but instead to get the smaller companies on board. So that means a lot of partnerships and in-kind donations. That will help us secure space and services from printing to marketing to parking,” Wright said. “And it will give us broad community support too.”

“Reno has a growing start-up spirit we hope will fuel the effort. The music and the culinary arts will bring people in to local businesses and bolster the bottom line around town. And those start-ups are just the foundation we need to grow such a festival. Entrepreneurs already understand that relationship,” Wright says.

Will the Off Beat ever rival Artown?

“That’s a month-long community-wide celebration with focus on national talent. We will be a weekend long citywide celebration with a focus on the local. It’s like apples and oranges,” Wright said. “But we do plan to find a way to artfully fit in, and hopefully become a destination festival for Reno.”

The Off-Beat Arts & Music Festival is scheduled for November 5-8.


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