Imagine a music festival with virtually no electricity or amplifiers, no sponsors and a resounding message of inclusivity. Imagine it’s happening right here in PVD this fall, with more than 300 brass and drum wielding musicians marching down the street. Sounds good, right?
This is Pronk!, our local representation of the many honk fests that take place all over the world. On Indigenous Peoples Day, hundreds of volunteers will host, transport and feed 20 or more bands that come from out of town to dazzle and delight with only the power of their lungs and limbs.
Music will start around 2pm on South Water Street, near the end of the new pedestrian bridge, and go for as many hours as permits allow. An intermission in planned, then tunes will make way for the wild parade to The Hot Club that the festival is most known for. This vibrant human snake has no barriers for entry, making it the jostling, jangling epitome of what the gathering is all about.
It takes an army of people to put such an event together. It’s possible that the most touching part of all is that so much of Pronk! is created by the youth of the city, many drafted from Trinity Academy for the Performing Arts, where long-time Pronk! participant Avi David and a few other organizers teach.
“A lot of the organizing and fundraising of the festival is done by youths, by students,” David told me. “They’ll operate a whole bunch of it, from set-up to break-down, from food to running art-making stations, to being stage managers and working with the bands and welcoming committees. It’s super helpful to the committee to have a force of youths who are excited and wanna get involved.”
The message of inclusion and community-building is self-evident. It’s about bridging the gaps between musician and audience, creator and consumer.
“It’s important for artists in the city, in addition to their own creative processes, to be involved in enlivening the city, to build bridges… A lot of the work is around connecting artists to community activists.”
For those interested in helping make this idealistic fest go off with as few hitches as possible, take a spin over to Pronk!’s website and sign up. A crowdfunding link will be live soon to help pay for the permits and police horses that these types of public shindigs require.