The Walker's Teen Arts Council talks about Open Exposure

This Sunday the Walker Art Center's Teen Arts Council is hosting Open Exposure, an all-day mini-festival taking place on the Walker's green grounds. Featuring Eyedea & Abilities, Tapes 'n Tapes, Total Babe and three high school bands hand-picked by the Council over the course of three showcases held throughout the cities. In light of the event we talked with the eloquent Kaitlyn Andrews about WACTAC, their selection process, and heated arguments.

Looking over the materials on WACTAC, it says that you help put together events to get teens more involved in the local arts community, but what does that entail?

Yeah, that's pretty much what we do. Sometimes we'll plan workshops or we'll bring some ideas for workshops or meet with artists and learn about their process and what their lifestyle was like growing up and stuff like that. But yeah, at the core we're there to bring teens into the Walker and into contemporary art in ways that probably they haven't probably exp before. So we're trying to bridge the gap there.

How many people are on the council?

We have 12 members on the council.

And that rotates every year?

You have to be a sophomore, junior, or senior to be on, and we get a lot of seniors every year, so when the seniors graduate and leave everyone who's still of age stays on. And then to the next year we get a new council for an interview process.

How long have you been involved?

I've been involved since my sophomore year so this is my second year and next year will be my third. I just finished up my junior year.

And where do you go to school?

Saint Paul Conservatory for Performing Artists, it's an arts charter high school in downtown Saint Paul.

So you said you have 12 members and everyone has their own specialties, so how do you reach a consensus?

I guess it depends on the year; every year is a little different because we try not to repeat ourselves. Usually we do one big event every spring or summer, so Open Exposure is our big event for this year, and the way we go about figuring out that we'll discuss and brainstorm ideas, and then we'll see what the Walker's doing and see if we can find something to line up with, just because it's easier if we can build off of something that already exists.

So for Open Exposure Walker's doing this thing called Open Field, where you can have people come in teach something or share something with people in the great space out on the green so we thought "Oh, OK so maybe we can do something with that."

And so we're brainstorming and we thought it would be cool if we did an all-day music festival and if we were able to showcase high school bands, and if we could have a resource there for young artists. They're always trying to connect with other teens to find bands or to find drummers or whatever,  and so it's really cool to have this one big meet up.

So there's three high school bands playing on Sunday, right?

For the high school bands we did a call for admissions, and we also looked up bands we would like, and then we sat down and we listened to all of them and invited them to play at showcases for us. And then from there we collected ones we felt really had a certain level of professionalism or a unique sound or seemed to be really solid in their stuff, and they have a sense of creative direction and we selected them to play the main stage. And we tried to select three bands that were of varying genres.

Were the earlier shows you hosted at the Beat and the Depot and Eclipse like a talent competition?

Yeah we tried to make them really non-competitive though, we wanted it to be really relaxed and that we're just showcasing everyone. We don't want everyone to feel pressured or like it's a battle of the bands or something like that.

You didn't want to be dicks about it.

Haha, yeah.

I'm curious about the booking of Eyedea & Abilities, Tapes 'n Tapes and Total Babe, how much oversight does the TAC have?

We have two coordinators for the council and one of them I'm pretty sure runs the whole teen programs deal. And then Adriana, she also helps out with the Teen Arts Council and helps plan workshops and stuff like that. So pretty much any ideas or anything we have we talk to them about it and they'll take it to the Walker staff and discuss it with them, and whatever they discuss will bring back to us. So we sort of have a middleman there.

So if you guys gave them a list of six bands you wanted to play Open Exposure, they would go and kind of bring back the resources you need to contact them?

Yeah, for the bigger bands they did the contacting, but they'll bring back like how much it would cost for each band and the logistics of the group and our different options and which bands are available and then we take that info and discuss and they'll take it back again.

And what are the names of the high school bands playing?

It's Justin Wulf, Wolf Mountain, and BubbleTeeth. Justin Wulf is a local hip-hop artist, he does all his own stuff. Wolf Mountain I am not actually sure about because when we saw them live they were missing four members.

They were missing four members? How many people are in that band?

Well if they're missing four members there must be six people in that band. I'm really excited to see them play, when we saw them it was just a guitarist and a bassist.

Well that's awesome that they made it to Open Exposure with just a bassist and guitarist. That bodes well! So, does WACTAC have any other events coming up?

Every fall we have what's called the student open house, and that stays the same very year in terms of structure but the artists rotate in and out. Right now we're figuring out what's happening for this year's open house -- that's hosted on a free Thursday night in October. After that we're working on interviewing the next year's council since only four members are staying on to next year.

Are there ever any heated arguments?

Haha, well we get discussing about things and then some people get really personal but it's all in good fun. Things get a little heated but at the end of the meeting everyone understands that it was no one walks away thinking "AAGH no one agrees with me!" We just all get really passionate about our stuff .

Is there anything I missed or you'd like to say?

Everyone should come to the open house in the fall! It's actually really really fun.

Open Exposure takes place this Sunday, July 11th from 1-9PM on the Walker Art Center greens. In addition to featured acts on the main stage, everyone is invited to bring their best music mixes to trade in a mixtape exchange, create musical instruments in an art-making tent, and make connections or learn more about the professional arts community at the Young Artists Resource Fair.   

For more information on the TAC visit their website.

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