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Postgrad: Carlin Gettliffe ’09 Pt. 5

Born and raised in Boulder, CO., Carlin moved to Rochester, NY after high school to attend school at the University of Rochester. Since graduating in May 2009, Carlin has continued to pursue his love for traveling while co-founding a technology business with two other Rochester alums. This blog post is part of a continuing series of posts about Carlin and his time at the University of Rochester.

By Carlin Gettliffe

It was not long after the Urban Exploring Club got off the ground that we first began talking about holding some kind of concert or event in one of Rochester’s underused spaces.

The conversation continued over the next two semesters until the idea eventually crystallized into an art and music “festival” (though we didn’t start using that term until much later). Returning to Rochester after winter break in January 2008, I remember asking Bryan Rotach, our advisor at the time, “Do you think we can pull this off?” His answer was, “Do you think you can?”  Two-and-a-half months later, ArtAwake was born.

When we set out to create the event, none of us could have predicted what would happen…

What ArtAwake ended up being is something between an art show, a concert, and a festival. And one thing is sure—we couldn’t have done it alone. Early on, our strategy was to get as many student groups on campus as involved as possible. We knew that we were going to need help, so we asked for it.  The response was highly positive, and a number of groups jumped on board, both with manpower and funding.  We sent out a call for art. We looked for buildings around town that might be suitable for the event. We invited bands to come play. We spent way more time on ArtAwake than on schoolwork…

A big part of what made ArtAwake so successful in its first year was the people who decided to become involved.  From 2008 to 2009 ArtAwake grew considerably. We found ourselves working with a core group of more than 20 students, divided into “Art”, “Music”, “Marketing”, and “Logistics” sections. The size of the venue went from 6,000 square feet in 2008 to 30,000 square feet in 2009 (which in retrospect was just a bit of overkill). Local food became a major component of the event, with 5 restaurants and bakeries catering the event.

Looking back, one of the most satisfying things about the entire project was walking around at the event and watching and listening to the experiences that people were having. In an article written subsequent to the event, one attendee described their experience this way: “I’m so glad I came…I learned that there is beauty all around us—sometimes even in the places that scare us…and it only cost me three dollars to find that out.”

We realized that what we created had the potential to actually spur more interest in the city among students, and build a stronger sense of community around art and music. As an event that is open to the public, ArtAwake brings students and Rochesterians of all stripes together to enjoy the same thing. (You can find information about ArtAwake 2010 here)

To be continued…

[Part 6]

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