South by South Orange Festival Attracted 700 Paid Attendees in First Year

by The Village Green
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The three-day festival of arts, ideas and exploration — attracted more than 700 paid attendees in its inaugural year.

The festival included dozens of events in five venues including five concerts, exhibitions, panels, performances — as well as active drones. Sessions were as diverse as the “Neuro-Science of Poetry and Art” and “How to Make Your Kids Your Favorite Dinner Partners.” Musical performances ranged from Alt Country to Indy Rock to Jazz and Blues. The signature events included a Tech(ing) Ball on Friday night and the “Causing Collisions” concert featuring Tomas Doncker on Saturday night.

According to South Orange Trustee Stephen Schnall, who spearheaded the event, the festival met its multiple goals.

Schnall, who leads the Village’s Public Information and Marketing Committee, explained at the July 13 South Orange Village Board of Trustees meeting that the event was “a part of branding South Orange, there is a vibe or feeling that we are building for our village.” Coming out of Play Day South Orange, Schnall said that the committee was looking for another “signature event” for spring/summer.

They came up with South by South Orange (the event will need to change its name for coming years due to a request from the organizers of the famed SXSW festival in Austin, TX).

Schnall said that committee had originally thought of organizing an ideas event “like TedEx” but ultimately decided on “something that combined cultural arts, technology, ideas, and music.”

“Our goals were several and I think we met most of them,” said Schnall, who listed:

  • increasing volunteering. Schnall said that more than 100 people had performed (many for free) and volunteered.
  • getting more people to come to new venues including SOPAC. “Of the people who registered and bought tickets, half had never been to SOPAC before,” reported Schnall.
  • activating a younger, vibrant crowd, which Schnall said was important for in the competitive real estate environment.

Most importantly, “Everyone said they wanted to come back again,” said Schnall.

Another key element of SOxSO was the “communiversity” aspect — organizing the event as a partnership with Seton Hall University.

“The other really great thing,” Schnall reported, “was that it was a proof of concept. It positions us really well to learn and improve. I’m ready for next year, but first I’m going to take a rest.”

Watch Trustee Schnall’s report here.

To see a full list of festival events and sponsors, visit here.

Click on any image to see a slideshow of photos from SOxSO, or visit the SOxSO Facebook page.


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