The Withers Collection Museum and Gallery is launching a different kind of summer festival. Instead of choosing between music or film, the Withers Creative Fest chose to embrace both, and to prioritize process over product. Named for civil rights photographer and museum namesake Ernest Withers, the new festival was built for intergenerational networking and to "showcase the works of local creative talents in Memphis."
Jazmin Withers, the Collection's marketing and communications director and great-granddaughter of Ernest Withers, says the festival was inspired by a recent partnership with the Memphis Music Initiative, an innovative non-profit organization built to enhance in-school music education. "That partnership brought us into close contact with all of these wonderful, young, creative people," she says.
- Music meets film meets photography.
June is African-American music appreciation month, so the original plan was to launch a new music festival. But Memphis has several musical festivals and Withers and her collaborators didn't think that was enough. "Why just focus on music when you can also have film? And why not photography," Withers asks. "This is the Withers collection.
"You can be a musician, but at some point you'll need a producer or an engineer," Withers says. "You can be in film, but you're going to need actors, writers, photographers. So bring them together."
The three-day festival pairs seasoned professionals in the fields of music, film, and photography with younger artists and entrepreneurs for afternoon discussions with musical performances in the evenings.
Artists and speakers include photographers John Hamilton and Rico Doss, music producers Princeton Echols and Christopher Gray, and Bar-Kay Larry Dodson Sr.