So very many of you have asked what we plan for the future of the Third Coast Fiber Arts Festival that I think it's probably time to provide an answer. The two experiences we all had together at the beautiful McGregor Center at my very own university (Wayne State) were pure joy, at least for me and my very small staff. The amazing instructors all had a memorable time as well, both years; some of them have asked when they can come back.
The problem, as I have told some of you, is that the second year of the festival coincided with the godawful publicity that dogged the city of Detroit for so many months during the bankruptcy. We have artisanal vendors tell us, somewhat incredibly, that they were afraid to drive along freeways into midtown. The vendor floor was about half of what it had been the year before -- and people didn't ask me WHY, they just concluded that the event had drawn fewer vendors (all of them were wonderful, by the way....numbers ought not to matter -- we had a LOT of them). We had absolutely fabulous classes, many of which were one-of-a-kind. I don't need to tell you how wonderful the instructors were; everyone knows the merits of people like Barry Klein, Laura Bryant, and Lily Chin. In addition, our day-trippers (people who just cane in for the day) were less than half of the year before; and, once again, people told us later that they were afraid of the city.
Now, I am of two minds about this. I work in midtown, and I know (as do thousands of other people) that midtown is bustling and fairly vibrating these days. It's the opposite of something to fear; I have my own ideas about what animates some of these so-called fears. But, to be sure, they are real, and I think this is important -- the media hypes this kind of thing day in and day out.
So here is the bottom line: I am frankly tired of losing great loads of money -- when revenues run short, I'm the one who has to pay. The classes were a raging success, and of course we had no trouble there ... we just didn't have enough to cover the catering, the hall, etc., in its entirety. And the staff was barebones, exhausted, and (I'm sorry to report this) subjected to occasional abuse from people who must have thought we had a paid staff. Three people put on a festival!
I am proud of what we did. I loved the idea of bringing something beautiful to my beloved midtown. I only recently paid it all off........so we will wait awhile, I will try to figure out how to hold a mostly-educational event perhaps in a location that won't make people think they can't come. I do conclude that I can't change people's minds. The only way to learn about midtown is to actually visit, go to a restaurant, go to the campus and walk.......and so on. It will have to be somewhere else, maybe Dearborn, and I will want to find a sugar-mama or two before I try it again. I'm not rich, and yarn operations in any case are under stress as the entire industry contracts. But I'm an educator by day, also by night, so....it's hard for me NOT to try again.
OK? That's as straight as I can get. In the meantime, KNIT ON, CROCHET ON, and enjoy every minute of it.