Table of Contents     Chapter 1     Chapter 2     Chapter 3     Chapter 4     Chapter 5     Chapter 6     Bibliography   After Thoughts--Summer 2485

The Idea of Festival

by Sidney N. Hetzler, Jr.

ęCopyright 1999
No portion of this work may be copied or used
in any form or manner without the author's written permission.

Last edited:  12/26/07        Visitors:  Hit Counter

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Table of Contents



CHAPTER 1 The Desire to Festival

Creation Myths

Origin of Charleston's Spoleto Festival U.S.A.

Interview with Dr. Theodore Stern

Interview with Charles Wadsworth

Interview with Nigel Redden

Interview with Colin Sturm

Defining Festival


Why Charleston?

The Struggle to Fill Chattanooga's Empty Festival Space

The Shaping Power of Place

The Element of Empty Space


Artistic Director: Why Menotti?

Why not "a Menotti" at Riverbend?

Art Power and the Element of the Artistic Director


Menotti's Festival Idea

Origin of Chattanooga's Riverbend Festival 

Festival Planning Seminars

Analysis of Objectives

Messages and Meanings

Analysis of Riverbend Festival Objectives

The Element of Purpose

Essence of a Festival of Difference

Signs of Festival


Revenue Devices


Theatrical spaces


CHAPTER 5 Festivals of Difference and Sameness

Perspectives and Semantic Framing

An Arts Festival-Creature Encounters its Heritage Habitat

Implications of Festivals Viewed as a Place of the Different

Functions of an Artistic Festival

CHAPTER 6 Qualities of a Festival Theater

Shaping of Reality




The Idea of Festival

Primary Function of a Festival: Chautauqua--Forum for Conflicting Views

Restatement of Claims: Intent, Function, Effect


General Bibliography

Dedicated to Albert J. Sullivan
Professor of Communication, Boston University College of Communication

About the beginning of the Spoleto USA festival, it all depends on what your goals are in life. I've always told young people to never set material goals, because you can never achieve them, because you're always changing them.  And if you can set your goal as helping others, you will be happier and you'll make other people happier.  And the only way to be happy in this world is to have other people happy. And when I see the joy and the pleasure that people get from this festival, I have the satisfaction of knowing that I've come close to achieving what I set out to do. Does that make sense?  I tell my own children not to set material goals.  Taking my life as a military person, I'm a devoted American; I love my country. I see its faults but I see its greatness too. And at the College I could see the opportunity to help young people. And in the festival, I see the opportunity to expose a large number of people to something which will be a joy to them and make their life worthwhile. 
Dr. Theodore S. Stern, first board chairman of Spoleto Festival U.S.A., 1999 interview.

Nothing is absolutely dead: every meaning 
will have its homecoming festival.

M. M. Bakhtin 
"Methodology for the Human Sciences," 
Speech Genres & Other Late Essays

Chautauqua is a place, an ideal, and a force.

John Heyl Vincent, founder; 
Chautauqua Institution, Jamestown, New York, 188Os, 
quoted on a postcard picturing the audience in a traveling 
Chautauqua lyceum tent.

Art, then, is an increase of life, 
a sort of competition of surprises that stimulates our 
consciousness and keeps it from becoming somnolent.

Gaston Bachelard
The Poetics of Space

Man passes through the present with his eyes
blindfolded. He is permitted merely to sense
and guess at what he is actually experiencing.
Only later when the cloth is untied can he glance
at the past and find out what he has experienced
and what meaning it had. 

Milan Kundera, Laughable Loves 

"...when the cloth is untied..." -- Woodstock '99

Woodstock 99 Photos (by Sandi Dill and Sid Hetzler)--click on thumbnail image for larger photo.
Link to Woodstock 99 Home Page

  woodbarepeacesym.gif (144162 bytes)            woodmudvet.gif (143280 bytes)
Left, popular ladies' chest art; right, mud bath survivor

woodtwonudemen.gif (146113 bytes)            wood99paintedman.gif (83013 bytes)            woodnavalpaint.gif (136580 bytes)
Left, two strolling gents on former B-52 runway; center, painted man; right, new form of naval art.
    wood99crowd.gif (593851 bytes)               wood99bodsurf.gif (256524 bytes)
Left, crowd in front of main stage;  right, moshing/body surfing pit at main stage-photo from press tent TV screen.

woodsidsavoy.gif (303958 bytes)

After 35 years, Sid Hetzler returned to Griffiss AFB, Rome, NY, where he was staff information officer at the base for three years in the mid-60s, to experience Woodstock 99 (and a return to the place of his first job after college) for his forthcoming book, "The Idea of Festival."  Giving the peace symbol in front of downtown Rome's unchanged Savoy Restaurant, scene of weekly, often drunken junior officer gatherings in 1962-65, Sid's reaction was negative:
 "I think this Woodstock 99 had as little to do with peace, love and music as the US Air Force did in the 60s when we pulled the hippies off the B-52 fences and runways.  The music was loud and angry and monotonous.  I'm happy I left well before Sunday night when the pent-up rage evoked by unending rock music erupted in fires, destruction, rapes and other violence.  This Woodstock's images were more like the horror of the movie "Apocalypse Now" than those of the gentle pastorale of the first Woodstock in '69, which I missed.  When you are frisked and searched at a festival entrance with a metal detector, you feel as if the military police had never left the old air base. To my surprise as a student of festivals, I found myself agreeing with a 'peace patrol' guard who said she hoped this was the last Woodstock.  There is merit to the New York State "anti-Woodstock" laws and regulations; local officials would profit more from programming their own festivals at the former air base than renting to such a gargantuan enterprise.  It is impossible for 225,000 people to be in a safe community environment with such temporary facilities and security forces.  I don't think programming hard rock and rap music almost exclusively makes good artistic sense.  Where was Joan Baez when she was needed to sooth the mob?  To judge from the expensive vehicles parked over several miles of concrete and the $150 ticket price plus travel and camping supplies, this was not, as our photo assistant Sandy Dill suggested, the old Woodstock counter-culture but mainstream young America.  These were 21st Century American youth with money to burn and time to waste...and nothing to say--Generation Z.  A national service corps seems an idea whose time has come...and maybe located at the now historic Griffiss Park.  The only real protest statement left for this late 90s Woodstock nation was to remove their clothes and parade silently with plastic beer bottles up and down the cracked runway from stage to stage without any real notice from anyone except the hundreds of vendors grasping for their ready money.  This kind of festival as a spectator sport seems at the edge of extinction."

   Table of Contents     Chapter 1     Chapter 2     Chapter 3     Chapter 4     Chapter 5     Chapter 6     Bibliography   After Thoughts--Summer 2485

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