One day in fall of 2012, a casual conversation took place, and its result has changed the lives of thousands of people. I was sitting with a future executive producer of the event and a veteran of artistic festivals and we were going through the amazing people, organizations and creators that we have been involved with over the years. These creators were pushing for something more within the music festival culture of the Southeastern US, and many of them had participated in groundbreaking fully artistic music events in other parts of the country such as Lightning in a Bottle, Symbiosis, Burning Man, Beloved, Sonic Bloom etc. (as had we). Somewhere along the line we realized that the seed had already been planted for an event of unprecedented artistic integrity, positive intention and cocreative effort in the South, and a spark went off between us.
From that spark Gratifly was born, and a new chapter for transformational gatherings in the Southeastern US was opened.
Gratifly 2013 came with a resounding harmonious concoction of art, spiritual realization, community learning opportunities, and the pure joy of all-night dance parties curated for quality and positive intention. Each stage, a cocreation of inspired design. Each corner and cranny, an expression of artists dreams. Each attendee, an open-minded creator and receiver of life-changing experiences. In the words of Australian musician Kalya Scintilla: “on my recent tour around the US I have kept meeting people whose lives where touched and enlightened from the experience.”
Now as we plant the seed for Gratifly 2014 through our crowdfunding campaign The Gratifly 2014 Seed Project (http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/the-gratifly-2014-seed-project) we want to share the elements that are at the core of the event, our ideas about regional of growth, and let the readers of Reality Sandwich in on what to expect from next year.
The Seed Project
The Seed Project (linked above) is a community platform empowering our fan base, and the entire network of transformational festivals that stretches across the entire world, to take some ownership in being financially vocal in supporting the culture behind Gratifly. It is also a way for fans to support the gathering in the off-season, and to gain some really cool merchandise and rewards in the process. The hope is to cover a portion of our budget through this community outreach, therefore ensuring that next year is a sustainable success.
But What is Gratifly?
Gratifly is a festival that has two elements at its basis:
-The first is empowering visionary creative entities in the Southeast,
-The second is to create experiences of healing, realization and joy through community celebration.
In setting out on such a task we looked to the gatherings and festivals that inspired us and saw that the creation of a space in which art, community, learning and outrageously fun concerts all co-exist and intermingle was what created the amazing experiences we associated with them. This skeleton of a model was honored, and from that core combination of elements we brought together the visionary creative organizations and people that had been working for so long in their own pockets and corners of the music festival spectrum in this part of the country and empowered them to make their dream a reality. It happened Westminster, South Carolina at the beautiful piece of property Avalon.
[Gratifly is a small-midsize gathering, and in 2014 we will not sell more than 3000 tickets, ensuring that the community is potent enough to create truly magical experiences.
-Gratifly boils down to 5 principles. They are aspects of the core foundation of the event. They go deeper than the outward combination of music, art, learning and spirituality.
-Striving for sustainability
-Integrating creative communities
Creating a supportive container.
Each of these principles is reflexive, a standard we impart to our patrons and a standard that we hold ourselves to.
-Just as we want the audience to engage creatively, we base our entire organization on supporting the ideas of our staff and working together to make them a reality. If a team member has an idea that makes sense financially and presents it well, it will probably get a go ahead.
-While we want our fans to clean-up after themselves and leave no trace of their being there, we try to emulate that on the backend as much as possible. Creating more permanent sustainable and regenerative infrastructure is something we are planning to aid this. We could even use workshops at Gratifly to educate while creating this stuff!
-Just as we have programming and spaces for kids as well as adults, we also have a staff that ranges multiple generations and backgrounds.
-We see our audience being world-changers, burners, learners, music lovers and artists, and that is exactly what we are behind the scenes.
-Finally, just as we create a supportive container for the crowd, we hold each other in similar support, respect and love.
This is the integrity we strive to achieve; we humbly aim to be everything that we want reflected in our festival experience.
A Merger of Communities
The Southeast is no stranger to the conscious culture behind Gratifly. The region has music festivals, spiritual retreats and burning man events… but it has been the standard that each type of event would raise up its own format to the risk of exclusion of others. Believe me when I say that getting a concert venue in the South to agree to promoters putting on even one yoga class before a concert can be like pulling teeth. Gratifly exists in part to break down the barriers between these communities, and to conjoin them in a space that is safe for all and is rigorously positive, while allowing for a maximum of audience freedom and creative engagement.
Transforming the Region through Empowerment.
There are parts of the country where holistic living, spirituality, music festival culture and artistic lifestyles are a mainstay of popular culture. Even though the Southeast has plentiful communities of creative culture, one would be hard pressed to argue that this region is one of those places… But the truth is that on the ground level there is a massive transformation happening here. Across the southern states there are sustainable communities, alternative venues, artistic pioneers and spiritual culture being grown in many ways.
We at Gratifly feel that all it takes is a platform for empowerment, a space of creative endeavors and BIG examples, and the push to be very public about this culture that can bring the transformation to the forefront. The best part is that unlike the Western US (where all we work for is far more commonplace) the South is in an amazing place to rise up this culture with its own values of positivity, respect, honor and integrity. We are paddling towards the lip of a wave, and we get to choose what the ride will look like…
Lets make it beautiful and legendary, a reflection of the universe and the heart of humanity.
It is an amazing time to be a visionary creative person in this part of the country, and the wary see that one day in the not too distant future there will be large cultural attractions to bring people from the West and all over the world to participate in this culture… we know that Gratifly is one such attraction.
-This year we have an entirely new organizational structure on the backend, and huge plans for the experience in the crowd.
Our goals for 2014 are:
-Highest quality art and music with high diversification
The (to our ears) best and most well intentioned music and art we can bring to the table, adding more options and experiences for different kinds of attendees.
-Complete Beautification of the grounds
Artfully lit pathways, stages of subtle honest grandeur, dazzling displays of lights and a cohesive aesthetic, you get the picture.
-Maximizing the flow of the space
A seamless interactive world of art, sound and designed spaces.
-Radically including the audience
The big one, we have to keep our lips sealed but be prepared to bring a creation of your own to the table.
-Larger ceremonial and community activity
From massive opening and closing ceremonies to pick-up soccer games, get ready to participate in the magic with a bigger group than ever.
We want to push the envelope of how magical, energetically cohesive and creatively diverse a gathering can be. Our vision is something that doesn’t feel handed to you, its not for consumption. At every turn the array of displays and experiences is honest and personal, inviting and inspiring. This is only accomplishable by putting a ton of artists to work, something we are glad to do!
The Bright Future Ahead
Imagine a summit in the South, a Mecca of creative exploration and a platform from which to begin the projects we all dream of… Now imagine that it’s only the first step.
This is how we see Gratifly. We will grow and develop it until it is a gathering of epic vibrations and unrivalled community, until it brings creators from everywhere and inspires festivals like it across the Eastern seaboard… And that will only be the first step.
Our immediate intentions are to hold a visionary leadership conference pulling creative leaders from all over the world, and to also host a directly learning based event. But those are baby steps to the true foundational culture that we work for. The future will see news ways of living, new models for sustained community, utter acceptance of environmentally ethical procedures for all our endeavors, and art that impacts the world at large. This is the future we envision, and the future that we know is being cultivated each and every day by the small creations and connection of people like you.
Supporting Gratifly is supporting this culture, and we ask you to join in the chorus of creativity that has changed the lives of thousands of people (no really, that is one of the most used terms in our audience feedback forms, “life-changing”) and will continue to do so with humility, hope and good old fashion elbow grease.
In the Spirit of Service,
The Gratifly Family.