The organizers of the Threads All Arts Festival learned a lot from their event's first iteration in Ann Arbor in 2016 and are planning a second, bigger, and better festival in Ypsilanti this weekend.
The interdisciplinary festival featuring music, poetry, dance, film, and visual arts runs from 1 p.m. March 10 to 10:30 p.m. March 11 at the Ypsilanti Freighthouse, 100 Market Place in Ypsi. The first Threads festival grew out of casual music nights and related events that Nicole Patrick and fellow students from the University of Michigan School of Music, Theatre, and Dance had organized.
Wanting to get more exposure for their bands, dance troupes, and other artistic projects, Patrick and a few other founders pulled together a proposal and won a grant to launch an interdisciplinary arts festival. They organized the event in just four months and hosted it at the Yellow Barn in Ann Arbor in 2016.
The group aimed to host a second festival in summer 2017, but finding a venue proved difficult. The Yellow Barn had been taken over by Theatre Nova and was no longer available for rent, so the date was postponed and the hunt for a new venue began.
Patrick, along with festival co-organizer Meri Bobber, toured several spaces before winding up in Ypsi. They say their "jaws dropped" when they walked into the Freighthouse, located in Ypsi's historic Depot Town district.
"The space is one big, gorgeous room with rafters and natural light," Patrick says. "The sound is good, and it had the space we needed to build gallery walls and put in two stages, and even have food there. It's what we'd been looking for the whole time."
The new location means that the festival can feature acts nonstop, with larger ensembles and acts on the main stage, and smaller, quieter acts on a cozier second stage. A gallery will feature works by local visual artists.
Patrick says organizers already had a great lineup of artists who had applied to participate in the festival, but once they knew the festival's new home would be in Ypsilanti, they opened up a second call for artists targeted specifically at Ypsi residents.
"We knew that if we were moving into that community, the representation of Ypsi-based artists needed to be stronger in the lineup, so we got them more involved," Bobber says.
Patrick says she is pleased that the festival is acting as a launching pad for artistic careers and new works.
"One thing that excites me a lot is the number of premieres of works happening at the performance," Patrick says. "There will be a composer premiering a chamber ensemble, and a few bands are using it as a way to get the word out that they're going to release an album soon."
Continuing the focus on all things local, food will be available for purchase by El Harissa, Pilar's Tamales, and Veg-O-Rama, with drinks by Stovetop Roasters and the Corner Brewery.
Single-day passes cost $10, with full festival passes costing $15. Children under 12 get in free. A full schedule for the festival is available here.
Sarah Rigg is a freelance writer and editor in Ypsilanti Township. You may reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Photos by Theo Schear.