Letter to the Editor: ‘Good Community Karma Knows No Boundaries’

I’m the founder of DesignShed, the year-round engine behind the third annual Montclair Design Week, coming this October 16-25. Since March, we’ve been busy putting good design to work with community partners – donating over 30,000 face shields to local healthcare workers, co-hosting weekly “Montclair Mondays” to support local businesses, setting up poster-making tables at local #BLM events and launching Montclair’s first pop-up plaza for much-needed public space.

In last week’s Baristanet article, Montclair Film organizers stated that they don’t see rescheduling their festival overtop Montclair Design Week’s long-planned week as a conflict, and cited a host of reasons, outlined below. We offer our responses, with a few constructive suggestions!

  • Montclair can “sustain a robust schedule of artistic programs.” An organization’s annual festival is categorically distinct from one-off events – financially, culturally and logistically. In a town with about a dozen well-spaced festivals – celebrating dance, literature, music, food, Black heritage, kidlife, mental health, design and film – it’s not difficult to keep track of each other’s calendar and honor the hard work that each organizer puts into the success of their crown jewel.
  • MF “depends on earned and sponsor revenue from two major events each year — the film festival and its annual fundraiser.” As an all-volunteer organization, DesignShed (MDW’s parent org) is in the same boat. We rely on MDW’s revenue, sponsorships, donations and volunteer availability to support endeavors that support our community. Like our 30,000-face-shield campaign, our poster-making campaign during BLM protests and our pop-up public space for downtown Montclair. What we receive through MDW goes right back into our community the rest of the year.
  • MF and MDW have “very different missions.” Yes, that’s true. Thankfully, our town’s patrons, donors and volunteers believe in and support multiple missions. Why force our culturally rich and diverse community to choose?
  • Patrons will still be able to “fully participate” in both festivals. How is that physically or logistically possible?
  • November drive-in screenings are “off the table due to weather uncertainty.” Almanac projections put temperature fluctuations within two weeks of October 16’s forecast at +/- 4º. With carpool screenings inside heated cars, is this really a worry?
  • There will be “very few (if any) in-person opportunities for volunteering.” With carpool screenings scheduled twice nightly, that will be a lot of volunteers needed, drawing on an already diminished volunteer pool due to the pandemic.
  • And finally, MF had to “position the festival after major [film festival] events, who will screen films first.” We have an idea! How about October 30 – Nov 8? That’s two weeks’ more logistical planning time and 15 minutes more dark skies for carpool screenings.

Good community karma knows no boundaries, and no one knows this more than this culturally rich and diverse town. please sign our petition, urging Montclair Film to do the right thing and change their dates when all residents, patrons, donors, sponsors, and volunteers can benefit. If you have any questions, please email us at hello@designshed.org.

— Petia Morozov, Founder, DesignShed

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2 COMMENTS

  1. Shame on the Montclair Film Festival for adopting an ‘I’m bigger and more important than you approach’ — to work out its revised schedule now hurting another cultural contemporary creative event also trying to build in stature and grow an audience.

    Competition for focus, sponsorship and PR attention — should be collaborative given how hard it is for volunteer organizations to succeed in this environment. So, the MFF is just not being nice now taking the same week.

    Montclair’s many cultural offerings are a good part of what makes this township special. The Design Week had already staked out that time period. MFF is the one scrambling to change. Yet, they still need help from many — both the township officially and from residents.

    Working together for all should be their underlying M.O. Not worrying about the schedule conflicts of other film festivals. It’s largely residents and surrounding area patrons who attend MFF events. Not many locals in the Hamptons are coming here and visa versa. A conflict with the Hamptons Film Festival in the fall for example would do nothing really to the MFF.

    Ego, more than impact is what really seems involved. Therefore, some re-thinking is needed.

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