Block Party 2019 has come and gone, but I’d bet it wasn’t much more than a blacked out weekend on most Central Student calendars. Although the festival engulfs the hub of our home, it’s sometimes easy to feel that the party isn’t meant for us. Block Party offers a lucrative experience similar to that of many big name festivals: exclusivity; the ability to buy a chunk of real estate shaped by activists, artists, queers, and musicians, in spite of the likely absence of these architects from the festival.
Central has been a steady fountain of these pioneers since the mid to late 1960’s, but we’re not exactly a fountain of wealth. $80 for a day pass, sans any food and drink expenses without a VIP upgrade, makes for an noninclusive event. But I’m not here to bash Block Party; rather, I’ve seen a significant increase in CHBP’s community outreach. Fundraising, advocacy, and community building seem to play a crucial role in Block Party’s agenda.
First off, the strong representation of the Vera Project in Block Party is invaluable to our community. Vera serves creative youth in ways that few other organizations do; kids are offered their first steps to careers in the music industry through low-priced lessons or given the spotlight at shows built around giving young artists a chance. Vera makes the pipe-dream of the music industry tangible. Block Party bolsters Vera not only physically, but also financially in a matched-donation available on the CHBP website.
Similarly, CHBP matches donations to LifeLong, a local non-profit born from the ashes of HIV-patient discrimination like a poverty-fighting, essential-medical-services-offering Phoenix. Not only that, a fundraising softball game was thrown for LifeLong just outside the gates in the Cal Anderson field. The Drag Queens took on the LEZBROS in a fierce match while engaging with festival goers to represent an integral part of our community. If Capitol Hill is known for anything, I would hope it’s our loving LGBTQ+ community.
Block Party is gaining traction with the festival market, but not without paying homage to its roots. From fundraising to empowering youth and women in skateboarding, free fitness classes, and so many more initiatives organizers took to recognize us, I would argue that Block Party isn’t just the weekend we begrudgingly tolerate. Block Party is fostering the next generation of creatives and fortifying its base.