Organizers are hard at work pulling together the second edition of a unique Asheville festival that seeks to foster economic development by bringing together members of the creative-arts community and folks who can share their expertise.
Last April, the inaugural HATCH Asheville served up a series of panels, workshops and presentations spanning the fields of architecture, design/technology, fashion, film, journalism, music and photography. The local event is a sister to the HATCHfest held in Bozeman, Mont., each fall, which has focused on mentoring creative artists.
"We're moving ahead. We're pretty far along in programming, and we're looking to make announcements at the first of February," organizer Sean O'Connell reports. His consulting firm, the Asheville-based Music Allies, works with independent music companies in a variety of areas, including marketing, design and promotion.
O'Connell says a new HATCH Asheville Web site is in the works, adding that this year's event, slated for April 15-18, will feature more hands-on participation in its workshops and panels. O'Connell says he's excited about what's being planned, but says it's too early to announce the names of big sponsors or speakers.
The core of volunteers who helped assemble last year's festival are back again, he notes, though the event's organizational structure has changed. This year, HATCH Asheville organizers will pay a venue coordinator, a programming coordinator and a food-and-beverage coordinator, O'Connell explains. Craig McAnsh, the event's director and lone paid staffer last year, remains on the organization's board.
"We made a decision that we wanted to stay focused on the event," says O'Connell. "We had some really incredible volunteers who did some great work at their own expense, and we want to take advantage of their expertise."
Organizers and participants alike called last year's event a success, citing the connections made through the panel discussions and social gatherings. AdvantageWest, Western North Carolina's nonprofit, public/private economic-development group, helped bring the festival to Asheville and has more than $30,000 in taxpayers' money and private donations invested in it.
"This is a different model," Sam Neill, the head of AdvantageWest's Creative Commerce Commission, told Xpress last May. "This is more of an educational process and about economic development — relationship building and helping people network. We're trying to cultivate the creative class from the bottom up. I think it's our future."