Hero of the Week

Photo by Alexandre Baron — Creative Commons License Some Rights Reserved

“Eyes, ears, and mind w i d e open.”

This was the perfect response from Mensah to the post of the podcast with Baraka Sele.

Sele, who is a presenter with the New Jersey Performing Arts Center and curator of the center’s World Festival, is a “hero of the week” for reminding us why we create, participate in and support artistic life.

If you ever wondered about the motivation for a presenter, take a moment to listen to Sele. The daily workflow, the negotiations, the travels, and the decisions are all powered by a fundamental worldview: curiosity.

As the North American and European summer festival season kicks into high gear, it is a good time to step back and take note of why festival audience numbers keep rising: curiosity. To be alive, and engaged, is to wonder what the world holds — literally, the sights and sounds of creation.

It is not just the audience numbers that are growing. While other industries have suffered contractions and decline, the selections available for new performances, new music, and new art works keep increasing, as well.

Unlike other businesses, technology has not diminished the production of artist works. Technology has increased the access and connection to art, from one’s own neighborhood to the global community.

Curiosity is a growth business.

Sele’s current favorite festival? The Fes World Sacred Music Festival. Coming up on their fifteenth anniversary, with the theme of Les Voies de la Création (the ways of creation), Fes is an incredible meeting of arts, audiences, and cultures. Or, as Sele puts it: “What the world looked like when God walked on it.”

That’s a pretty good description of what is possible in the festival world, and a world of curiosity.

- Bill Reichblum

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