Detroit Art Series – The AfterMath

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So, a few long weeks that went by after my art festival that I hosted at the Russell Industrial Center. I’ve been given some great feedback, some enjoyable positive comments and also some constructive ones too. I decided that it is time to let the party attendees and social media followers know what really went down before the final days of the “Detroit Art Series.”

Leading to the week prior to the Detroit Art Series, which was an artistic, live music, entrepreneurial vibe festival – my very first festival that I’ve ever hosted – there were some major set backs that were not announced publicly. Some of these obstacles were so difficult that I almost cancelled the event because I couldn’t handle the amount of stress. I’m grateful that I stuck to my guns and went through with the event.

My mission was to bring the community together to enjoy one night of music and local art.

I am a huge supporter of blessing the community with artistic value because anyone can be inspired – by taking the time to look at thoughtful work that was put in by others, you can keep your creativity flowing. I may regret everything that I am writing later, but I dont really care at this point. After receiving some much needed feedback after the venue, it is time that this information is exposed.

Here is the absolute “real deal” of the events that happened to cause such a disruption in my mission which has led me to not want to host another venue for many more moons.

Let’s start in the order that each of the events happened.

Reaching Out

As I coordinated the event, created a Facebook event page, marketed the venue to the maximum – I reached out to fellow tenants at the warehouse to get a feel if anyone wanted to collaborate. Collaborate meaning – open their studio space willingly or just have a beer with me to get to know each other. There were a few great candidates in Building 1 and Building 2 who were so excited – they couldn’t wait.

I reached out to the Rust Belt, Hatch, Hamtramck Festival, Detroit Galleries — you know the basic Google search for local Detroit artists. I had a vibe in mind and wanted to touch base with every artist to make sure our wave length aligned.. meaning their artwork and passion were apart of my vision. Which was pretty much everyone that attended. The vendor list grew within days of the event – it was very overwhelming keeping track of emails and prioritizing how to coordinate the music, food and vendors.

1. Attacked Without Having A Chance To Explain

I don’t enjoy people that judge me before getting to know me. I dont enjoy when people hid behind a keyboard to say things when they really shouldnt say anything at all.

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Here is the story behind this graphic – or what I think could be the story. One weekend prior to my event – there was major vandalism done in the warehouse. I understand why some tenants were on their toes about hosting something when intruders came into our place of work and sprayed terrible artwork = I mean I wouldnt even call it that. The two girls, yes girls, they were caught on camera & later on social media talking about it — tagged the basement and first floor with black spray paint. They had the audacity to throw the empty spray can in my flower pot outside the door. Like come on — lurking around in the middle of the night, so rude and so childish.

But I really couldn’t cancel this event, people would still show up. I mean even if I sent the word out etc.. I would have to face bearing a cancelled event. So I did the best I could by sticking my neck out and taking the heat from comments.

I did hire security – who later cancelled an hour before the venue to work at the strip club for a special pajama party that was paying 4x the amount. The super’s supervisor called me to even tell me this.. it was like, damn. 🙁

So, as you can see.. I am battling with making sure everyone is happy. But can I really ensure that everyone is happy? I just dont like the word unsanctioned.. I had to Google it — I really wasnt sure what it meant, still kind of confused.

No one can possibly expect me to be perfect, make everyone happy – or anyone for that matter. I’m taking a risk by uploading these images and may even be ‘reported’ or whatever you want to call it. But there is a rhyme and reason for everything I’m about to do. And the public needs to see all the bullshit I jumped through to get to the finish line.

2. Changing the name of the venue

Everyone is probably wondering why I changed the name of the event a few days before go time? I was served with a lawsuit that outlined the name was trademarked, which was absolutely incorrect information after I investigated. I contacted my lawyers, forked out $500 and found out that the name of my successful venue on social media = was not in any condition to be attacked by an event promoter that stated “I should be undoubtful aware that he/she has been throwing events in Detroit for over 20 years”. Here’s what I should have responded, “You should be undoubtfully aware that this is my second venue / first festival – and I’m clearly doing so much better than you.” Trying to get a piece of the action. Good one.. At least I played it smooth and took care of it like a boss. This was literally happening days before my event. So if my stress level isnt high enough from planning the event, taking care of vendors, booking security, talking to the tenants about collaborating and working with management to run everything smoothly — I gotta deal with some dick who thinks he’s a king at events in Detroit.

    • I had to remove all my graphics that I spent time creating, all that hard work
    • Removing the name from all of my blog posts and any past social media accounts
    • Contact the media who has been helping with circulating online to remove it / change it to “Detroit Art SerieS”

After further investigating, the original name was actually placed into the US Patent Government and was pending. Check out the date the applicant filed “June 5. I’m actually very impressed with how quickly this person / company / event whatever moved to claim this name. But seriously, it didn’t seem like a big deal when I created the Facebook event. But after it got traction, it clearly became a big deal.
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Whew.. right, still a lot. On the phone every day with my two laywers.. trying to smooth things out with a positive mindset.

I”m actually glad this happened because…

Check out the timing of a block party in Detroit that went wrong. This had nothing to do with my event “Detroit Art Series” but everything to do with why the name associated in the beginning was a BLESSING to change.

A few days after my venue, on June 26th there was a shooting in Detroit.
Check this out… “5 Shot at Block Party in Detroit” the URL using those terms ‘DBP’ as well. Man, it willl take a long time to get this cleared off the cache on Google. I suggest filing a lawsuit against USA today next LOL That sucks.. and everything does happen for a reason.. so Good thing I changed the name.

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Vendors Dropping Out

On the day of the event,  I lost almost half of my vendor list. These vendors were great to be up for coming to my venue, but it was a bit of weird timing as Electric Forest – the music festival was happening the weekend after. Vendors had to drop out to save inventory for the music festival.

Others had opportunities to host their items closer to where they were located, again that is very cool but still bummed.

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I totally understand but it also sucked because I was really expecting to have 20 vendors at the event and only 10 were able to come. You live and you learn, always book ahead with contracts, commitments etc. It was thrown together very last minute and I’m still proud of myself for doing all of this on my own for the first time.

Only 2 weeks of promoting, I didn’t want it to turn into a 30/40 vendor venue. I had to be grateful for hosting the event at the Russell. I didn’t want to upset management by having too many things going on, especially when this was my very first art series that I’ve ever hosted. This art series was about my latest Detroit art collection that I so proudly display online.. I had 20 new paintings, 5 new poster designs and many small mixed media Detroit cityscapes that I wanted to show to the community. My hopes are to be the ground level of art and entrepreneurship. It’s about taking risks, no matter what you have to do – it’s about taking risks.

Eventbrite RSVP List

I was asked by upper management to curate a guest list due to the overwhelming responses on social media. I mean this things was trending on Facebook.. Literally TRENDING. Facebook had it on my newsfeed with a star that said, “check out the photos posted at the Russell” I mean HOW cool is that?!

But back to Eventbrite and why I had to use it, basically liability. Although I purchased event insurance for $100, and was going to have additional insurance provided, this was to protect my assets.

I used the Eventbrite tool to keep track of how many RSVPS, how large of an audience would arrive. I was informed that someone would be at the gate to scan in the tickets, whom I hired, to keep track of the flow of visitors. I even tested the guards smart phone by pulling up an Eventbrite Qrcode to see if it worked.. and yes, it flowed seamlessly. This was all hours before, around 1/2PM before vendors started arriving.

Not even an HOUR before the event started, I was approached by security that they were understaffed for an event at a strip club that would pay XXX amount which was clearly higher than the hourly rate that I originally agreed. I couldnt match the price, so bummed. Of course, I did not have a contract because I verbally agreed – but should have hired a back up plan. I don’t know, things happened.. So I called my friends at the Detroit Police Station to drop by. They arrived in full body armored suits – walked around the Russell for quite a bit of time. It was funny to see all of the faces from how tense everyone was, but these officers were super cool. They didn’t care – they were looking out for me because I was in a bind.

What do I do at this point about Eventbrite tickets? Do I post online to everyone – Oh hey, btw security cancelled — um, sorry about all of the million posts that I wrote to have your ticket in hand. I was basically being told to do so, and it didnt work out in the end. No.. I didnt even care – it would go smoothly if it was meant to. I took the heat, from a lot of different directions.

Obviously this is a learning experience — and it was fun hosting but there are many things that I cannot control. I would almost call it bad luck.. or curve balls. How do I handle all of these curve balls happening at one time? Here’s the answer :

Assemble a team.. whether that’s a team of individuals who are tenants of the Russell or whether that is a team of motivated individuals who want to do more for their community. I’ve learned that I am not wonderwoman, even though I try to be.

After 3.4K RSVP – which is completely shocking because there were more “Yes” than people who were invited. So clearly something I was putting together was enticing to people.

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And how amazing to have 1100 tickets sold? That;s very impressive .. for putting an event together so last minute, I am patting myself on the back for throwing this together. Nothing that I imagined I would ever do, and I thought it was a complete success. I was on cloud 9 the entire time, running back & forth, checking on how smoothly it was going.

Did the musicians need anything?
Did vendors have power? Yes, if you ran a 200 foot extension through my studio.. OMG, the outlets outside the space did not have power.. I had to run everything thru my space.

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The THANK YOUS

Let me just say, if it weren’t for my crew – this would have never been possible. My crew is a community of people that I orchestrated in a Facebook group page for communication. These individuals are producers, DJs, entrepreneurs, artists and event planners. These people were there for me.. days before, days during the caos and all day on the event.. I mean all day. I had friends arrive at NOON that day and festivities didnt start until 5pm.

These people are amazing.. I mean I have to give it to the vendors who committed themselves to be a part of this ground zero opportunity. I have to support the sound team who made the sweetest stage with LEDs, huge speakers, tent – it was just a blessing .. A real ground zero – festival experience. I am not Insomniac, I am not React .. I am Melissa DiVietri and I am running like there is no stopping. I’m making something here.

I had a wonderful sponsor who rocked the floor, she was amazing. I was so happy to see all of the effort that her team put in with it with the banners and the huge tent — so cool. So much love that someone I hardly know – is making for me.

I was on the radio the night before.. Yes the 10pm to Midnight show.. I was working hard finalizing everything at the studio and still thankful to have a shoutout on the radio for extra promotion.
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All of my friends who came and supported, I have to say some special words to Jonathan who saw the event online – checked out my personal blog and had to make it to the event because he was so inspired. This person was the most helpful individual and I thank him for that.. Holding my studio down, helping with management, assisting with music transitions etc.

The amount of emails that I received from people who wanted to perform — it blew me out of the water. I mean I had an orchestra, full band, DJs, soloists — you name it – rappers, performers.. it was insane. I planned my music ahead of time – which consisted of a soloist, multiple Djs, and vinyl Djs.. I had that laid out weeks ahead of time – The schedule, the confirmations etc. I had one band cancel the day before to some family matters, but that;s alright we quickly figured out a time preference. There was another DJ who couldnt get off work.. it just really had a lot of back end issues that no one understood unless you were apart of the crew and knew everything that was going on. So here I am, telling you uncut what went down without caring. This needed to be said and it needed to be out there.

Comments, comments.. everyone always has something to say.

Maybe individuals arent aware that I’m a social media marketer – I take that with all my heart. I push hard online with any event or non profit that I rock.

So dealing with constructive “feedback” during, middle and after was helpful but some of it was tacky and unnecessary. How can I throw something and expect to know how well it will go? Well, that’s when you just trial and error. Go with my best judgement.. which is what I was ‘trying to do’ but at some points I hit the fan 😉 all of my friends are aware of my aggressive, diva like attitude.
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I understand that you were expecting “morE” but what more could I give if I am trying to party control – Monitor the amount of people coming in so it doesnt get too crowded.
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I mean, I took the punches. I took them HARD. From everyone.
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If you have an issue with me using your comments – well too bad, you shouldnt have displayed them publicly. It was tacky, send a personal message so Im not embarrassed or thrown off guard. Be thankful, I didn’t leave your name & photo. But be real, we are all human – we have emotions & feelings; as one person hosting this amazing experience, I did an OK job.

Blessings on blessings from fellow artists and tenants

I had people who own studios, businesses, you name it – upset with me.. But I also had ones that loved me. At one point, there were 20 tenants all standing around eachother. These individuals have been in the Russell for years and never met eachother. I brought something amazing together.. I had such great feedback, ‘thank you for doing this’ ‘this is what we need’ ‘you are a blessing to this place’ ‘when is the next one’ ‘how do I get involved’ and so much more. I’m still so happy that it happened. There was 278 social media shares.. From Opportunity Detroit to Daily Detroit – a true community effort.

I’m just trying to make people happy — trying to inspire them with art and music.. and collaboration. This is Detroit – this is the city to make something of yourself. I’m passionate about my brand, my business, my art work.. I’m passionate. That fire will never stop glowing – I promise you. My heart is too big and too strong.. My skin is too thick – I will continue rising and bringing people together.

Now that you know 70% of what was happening behind the scenes, are you so upset or so joyful that I overcame the amount of obstacles I faced to host this party?

I’m still open for feedback, I’d like to hear what people have to say – you can leave a comment below or you can email me directly: melissa.divietri@gmail.com

I am currently not hosting my own art festivals but I am involved in many others ones happening in Detroit. There are many big festivals coming up and if you are an artist – let me know – I’d be happy to connect you with the right people.

Here are some pix from that night at the Detroit Art Series, there are many more to come!

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