Walmart heirs launch new music festival in bid to make Arkansas an arts destination | Smart News

The FORMAT festival will be held on 250 acres of lush grounds just a few miles from Bentonville, Arkansas.
Zak Heald / Courtesy of FORMAT

Some travelers know the Ozarks for the region’s forests and caves. Now a new festival seeks to put Bentonville, Arkansas– home to Walmart’s headquarters – on the cultural map for something quite different.

Musicians, contemporary artists and audiences converge on the territory in September to FORMAT (For Music + Art + Technology). The new festival is launched in partnership with the heirs of Walmart and the production company behind Lollapalooza and Austin City Limits Music Festivalthe the wall street journalreports Kelly Crow.

The festival will take place the weekend of September 23 at Sugar Creek Airstrip near downtown Bentonville.

Featuring interactive art installations and technology demonstrations, headliners include Floor Rüfüs, Phoenix, Khruangbin, beach house, The war on drugs, Herbie Hancock and the Inflamed lips. Featured artists include Doug Aitken, Nick Cave and Maurizio Cattelanit is Toilet paper magazine.

In addition to the main and secondary stages typically seen at music festivals, musicians will also perform in non-traditional venues – a converted barn that organizers call a “disco madhouse,” speakeasy, and hidden spots in the forest that surrounds the 250-acre festival site.

FORMAT won’t shy away from bizarre artistic experiences, like a guest appearance by artist Doug Aitken mirrored new horizon hot air balloon, as part of an opening event, to daily “invasions” by artist Nick Cave sound combinations— performers in intricate costumes made of discarded materials that produce unique noises. irish artist Neil Harbissonwho considers himself the world’s first human cyborg, will give a presentation using an antenna attached to his head to project images onto a screen.

Other highlights include a maze built from discarded plastic bottles by Bentonville residents and sex therapy sessions by a hypnotherapist and erotic jewelry designer. Betony Vernonaccording to the WSJ.

Shiny hot air balloon

Doug Aitken’s “New Horizon” will take flight during the festival’s launch ceremonies.

Jamie Barron / Courtesy of FORMAT

It’s all part of an ongoing effort to transform Bentonville, where entrepreneur Sam Walton founded Walmart in 1962, into a must-see cultural destination despite its relatively small population and small-town roots. The transformation is in progress: Jacobin‘s Stephanie Farmer reports that Walton’s heirs are “[bankrolling] converting the small town of Bentonville into a playground for Walmart’s management class and supply chain vendors.

The small town has grown rapidly. the Northwest Arkansas Democrat Gazette‘s Doug Thompson and Mike Jones report that the city of 55,000 has grown 53% over the past decade, and that officials attribute the surge to the city’s “commercial and cultural growth.” In recent years, several art museums have opened in the region. Among them is the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art. Its collection includes paintings by Winslow Homer, Norman Rockwell and Jackson Pollock.

“With FORMAT in OZ, we tried to capture everything that makes Northwest Arkansas one of the most dynamic and fastest growing ecosystems in the country: unparalleled access to outdoor recreation, to accessible art everywhere you turn, and to a culture of innovation as boundless and wild as the Ozark Mountains,” says Olivia Waltonchair of the museum’s board of trustees and wife of the Walmart heir Tom Waltongrandson of the company’s founder, in a Release.

Tom’s aunt, Alice, founded the Crystal Bridges Museum. With a net worth of around $71 billion, the arts philanthropist is the 16th richest person in the world at press time, per Forbes.

Local officials say the museum has catalysis development in the region. But others are critical of what they see as the Waltons’ dominance over Bentonville and northwestern Arkansas, reports Scalawag magazine Oliva Pascal, which refers to the town as a “company town” in which the influence of Walmart and the Waltons is “pervasive and inescapable”.

The Waltons are involved in the festival. But Artnet News‘ Eileen Kinsella reports that visual art will be organized by triadica self-proclaimed “creative house and cultural engine” based in New York, London and Vienna whose founders say they came up with the idea for the festival and spent two years looking for its home before settling in the Arkansas town.

People in colorful costumes with long dangling wires

Nick Cave’s Soundsuits will make daily “invasions” of the music festival.

James Prinz / Courtesy of FORMAT

“Bentonville is very unique in the way culture and community are intertwined,” said Roya Sachs, founder of Triadic. clean art. “I’m always amazed by what I discover when I’m there, performances in an abandoned cheese factory turned into a museum [the Momentary]to James Turrell Skyscapes.

The WSJ describes the Walton heirs at the helm of the festival, Steuart, Tom and Olivia, as “outdoor types who love hiking and biking.” The heirs in their thirties tell the WSJ they see the festival as a way to continue investing in the region’s cultural economy while satisfying their desire for live music.

Launching a new music festival is a massive undertaking, as evidenced by the well-documented events of 2017 fire festival, an expensive party on a private island that turned into a fiasco when influencers and attendees found themselves stranded on an island equipped with FEMA disaster tents, stripped food and the realization that concerts in question did not actually exist. Its founder pleaded guilty fraud and was sentenced to six years in federal prison in 2018.

In contrast, the Waltons and Triadic have chosen music festival veterans to run the show, for Artnet. C3 presentsthe event’s production company, has been responsible for everything from bonnaroo at the inauguration of President Barack Obama in 2009.

General admission tickets start at $275 and go on sale Friday, April 22.

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