The organizers of The 39 Days of July have made some changes about where children can play during concert events at Charles Hoey Park and Duncan resident Morgan Newington is unhappy about it, saying it marginalizes children and families.
In a big, two-page item in the 39 Days brochure called Festival Etiquette, we learn some of the reasons for the changes.
“Yes, there is a space between the stage and the audience that is sometimes used for dancing, especially when dance bands are performing. When not in use as such, we sometimes see young children playing in front of the stage which is distracting to the performer and to the audience…Some will say they are only dancing to the music and that is cute but when the thunder is being shared with the cuteness the poor performer must suffer. This is somewhat like being judges on how able the performer can be to dodge tomatoes thrown at them during their performance…kinda, only cuter (ouch).
“Many families show up with a child in tow and so, we are putting together a children’s area this year, back by the museum under 10 x 10 tents, with toys and things to keep the children busy while still allowing the parents/guardians to be part of a community music festival and still hear the wonderful music being supplied.”
They also request parents not allow children to climb all over the cenotaph, as many community members find this disrespectful.
“And while they are behind the stage playing where the performers ready themselves the desire to run and shout is so easy to succumb to. But again it takes away from the concerts being viewed and listened to by people out front.
“Dilemma. People don’t like having their children disciplined by someone else, that is a given, so please save us and yourself the embarrassment by dealing with this before we have to.”
Newington takes exception to some of these ideas, and sent his objections to the Citizen as a letter to the editor.
“Music is art, it is creative, it is expressive and it is intrinsically tied to human culture and society. It has been a part of human existence since we came out of the trees. One could argue that dance followed shortly after as an accent to music. Together they form a tight bond that is important to many cultures if not all humans.
“The fact that the 39 days of July has decided to put a partial moratorium on this form of expression is saddening considering the organizers strong advocation for the arts. The children in our community should not be sidelined for their playfulness or enjoyment in the form of dance and they should not be compared to rotten vegetables.
“The printed festival etiquette not only marginalizes people in the community through words but also in location. Putting the children in a tent away from the venue insinuates that children should not be in the way of the quiet enjoyment of adults during the festival. A festival that takes place in a public space and is free for all (children included) to enjoy. Personal prerogatives for how the organizers would like to enjoy music should not be pushed onto the public.
“That being said, respectful enjoyment should be had by all. This includes not climbing on monuments and proper guardianship over our young ones. That guardianship of our youth should not include the snuffing of creative expression. The children and families that are being put on the sidelines for this event are the future stewards of Duncan’s landmark music festival. They will remember being shuffled to the children’s tent. One can only hope that when the torch is passed to them they will restore the 39 days of July to a family friendly venue,” he said in his letter.