Rudy Panucci On Pop Culture

FestivAll: 15 Ideas For Next Year

Okay, FestivALL was great, no bones about it, but here’s a list of 15 ideas, things that I think could make next year’s FestivALL even better! These are constructive criticism and positive suggestions, with the whining kept to a minimum:

 1)  The stages should be farther apart.   It was great that there was so much stuff going on around Capitol Street, but the Northernmost stage suffered from being too close to the music at the Davis Park Gazebo. Maybe the Allied Artists tent and the North Capitol Street stage could be relocated next year.  Summers Street at the Slack Plaza could be a  good location,  unless the Gitmo-chic butt spikes at Slack Plaza scare away some folks. 

2)  Some of the outdoor activities should be smoke-free.  Actually all of them should be smoke-free.  Tobacco should be banned, but I’m saying that from the perspective of somebody who’s been coughing up a lung all week due to tobacco over-exposure.  At the very least, the children’s stage near the library, where we took in Drew The Dramatic Fool, should not be located across from the cigar shop.  For once, I was not the only person complaining that it smelled like burning Yak ass.   Mel was cracking lines about “Baby’s first second-hand smoke.”   How about a little clean air next year?

3) More acts, spread out more.  Maybe the various free stages downtown would benefit by having a staggered schedule, so that the shows don’t all start at the same time.  And maybe instead of booking acts to perform five or six times, cut them down to three or four and bring in some fresh faces. 

4) Rock bands performing on the roof of the municipal parking building.  This one is RFC Big Shot Brian Young’s idea.  Round up some of Charleston’s louder, younger bands, and let them cut loose on the roof of the parking building on Dickinson Street.  If it rains, move everybody down one floor.  Sure, the acoustics will be horrible, but it’ll sound like half the clubs in town.

5)  More Comparsa!  You can never have enough Comparsa. And Belly dancers.  Preferably together.  Check the video below.

6) Keep that Cabaret Stage at the Clay Center.  That was a blast.  The uncensored No Pants Players show and “Guys Are Dolls” capped off an amazing 16-hour day for Me and Melanie. Maybe bring in a decent national stand-up comic next year to add to the mix.

7) Use the Cultural Center more.  The open mic guitar contest was loads of fun, and it reminded me of the forgotten resource we have in that wonderful performance hall. I don’t care for contests, but the music was great.  Maybe next year they can do more open mic stuff beyond guitar.

8 ) Porta Potties in key locations.  Badly needed.  ‘Nuff said. 

9) Get the word out to local restaurants about FestivALL.  It was shocking how many Capitol Street eating establishments were oblivious to FestivALL, and didn’t bother remaining open.  I know that Graziano’s is closed for vacation, but you can only wonder about how many tens of thousands of dollars they lost by not being open during FestivALL.   Kudos to Bellacino’s for the free water.  I’m sure they raised their profile with that generous promotional idea. 

10) More film festivals.  Maybe a Radio Free Charleston marathon at the Electric Sky Theater would go over well? I’m just saying….

11) Get the WVSO to appear on Mountain Stage to cap off FestivALL.  Could be a killer show, if they’re backing the right people.  We need for the Symphony to play a larger part in FestivALL, and that’d be a great way to do it.

12) More events on the Clay Center lawn.  The Wednesday night pre-Festival show should become a tradition.

13) Steal “A Taste Of Charleston” from the Regatta.  Look, the Regatta is a dying beast.  Let’s take one of the better events from it, and drop it into FestivAll.  Hold it in the daytime at Appalachian Power Park.  The culinary arts were under-represented at FestivALL this year, and this would be a great way to fix that. 

14) Include fireworks, and do it at the Levee.  Fireworks at Power Park suck. Especially when the firescape at LiveMix is facing away from it.  Put the fireworks back where God intended them to be. And hold them during FestivALL.

15) Look at expanding to two weekends.  The major complaint that I heard all weekend (aside from the cigar smoke) was that there was too much stuff to do in too short an amount of time.   Maybe if we spread FestivAll out to the weekend before and the weekend after West Virginia Day, we could allow more people to attend more events.   Tied to things like the Solstice ceremony at The Unitarian church, it could help establish a more accessible FestivAll experience.

That’s fifteen ideas off the top of my head.  There may be five more later tonight. We’ll see.  The bottom line is that FestivALL was fantastic, and now it’s time to kick it into high gear and see if we can make it a greater showcase for the arts in our city.  Feel free to discuss or add to this list in the comments below.


  1. Charleston Charlie

    Ditto on the tobacco haze at Festivall events. Why can’t smokers just understand that their second hand smoke makes others sick.

    It’s sad that a great event like Festivall gets nicotine stained.

    Perhaps the Board of Health could include gatherings like Festivall in its new smoking regulation.

    After all, we can’t turn our city into a work of art if people can’t see it through the smoke.

    *cough* *wheez*

  2. deron sodaro

    the food and beer vendors need to be more prepared at their respective events. there was a limited variety of soft drinks available at the wonderful clay center lawn event on wv day.

    Also, at the “festivall friday on the levee” the food and beer vendors had ran out of food/beer and were packed up and gone halfway through the second of three bands. BIG shout out to the wonderful VooDoo Katz faithful who stuck around and danced their hiney’s off anyway!

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