by Rick Langenberg:
The chance to swing is coming to Green Mountain Falls.
Friends, neighbors, strangers and even politicians will have the opportunity to play together and create their own music, right next to the town’s Gazebo.
In yet another milestone for the Green Box Arts Festival, the small Ute Pass town will host one of the more innovative artistic installations that have commanded much popularity in downtown Montreal. It will become the signature exhibit, serving as a living art, musical and recreational experience, for the annual Green Box Festival next summer.
Called the “21-swings” in Montreal, the installation allows participants to enjoy one of the favorite pastimes of kids, with each swing seat acting as a musical instrument. As people swing, prerecorded sounds from pianos, guitars, harps and other instruments fill the air, according to an article in the Huffington Post. The multi-colored, musical swings and special lighting and effects have become such a sensation, garnering the attention of Oprah and other celebrities who say the swings create a “living piece of art.” The main challenge involves having neighboring swings work together in way that produces great melodies and harmonies. The concept stems from the idea to build cooperation and harmony among a group of people in a public area.
And now, the installation, the brainchild of the award-winning French Canadian design group Daily Tous Les Jours, is headed to Green Mountain Falls next summer for nearly a month. Details were presented at last week’s board of trustees meeting by Jesse Stroope of the Green Box Arts Festival group.
Stroope said the group wants to install a smaller version of the swing attraction, with possibly 12 swing seats, and have it featured in the city park next to the lake and Gazebo for close to a month, starting in mid-June, on a daily basis. He cited the popularity of the swing installation in Montreal and believes it could become a huge draw for the festival and the town. The Green Box Arts Festival has brought a variety of artistic and cultural, interactive displays to the mountain town, a number of which have been exhibited in more urban areas.
The 12-swing plan got the unanimous thumbs-up by the GMF Board of Trustees. The board members made it clear they are ready to swing themselves and want to waive most daily fees. And this comes from a group of leaders who can’t agree on too many issues.
The only catch is that the proposed location of the $500,000-plus installation may put a damper on one of the town’s main traditional revenue sources in the summer: weddings at the Gazebo.
City officials cited a possible conflict between the swing participants and wedding brides, who may not be thrilled with big crowds overlooking their ceremonies and with musical swings blaring away. The town normally books several weddings at the Gazebo on both Saturday and Sunday during this period.
Trustee Howard Price, though, said he believes most wedding party organizers would enjoy having their ceremony next to such an innovative installation. More importantly, he touted the benefits of the Green Box Arts Festival and suggested that the town may just have to make some adjustments. “We are going to bring a bunch of people in town,” said Price. “We are going to have a world-class artistic installation.” Moreover, he cited the success of last summer’s Cloud City, an exhibit once displayed on top of the Metropolitan Art Museum in New York City, which drew thousands of participants.
Plus, Stroope said the festival organizers would close down the swing attraction at certain times, if wedding party organizers wanted to have a more peaceful ceremony.
Amily Beidelman-Almy, the owner of the Mucky Duck restaurant, who handles many wedding parties, suggested that the town take a more cautious approach and don’t assume everyone wants to see people swinging on their wedding day. “Brides are pretty particular,” quipped Beidelman-Almy, who predicted that some brides would love having their ceremony next to the 12-swing installation, while others would object. “Weddings are big in this town,” added the GMF business owner.
Trustee Ralph LoCascio also cited a concern with the city losing a great deal of revenue. He said the trustees need to examine the fees they plan to assess Green Box for this display. Under one proposal, the city would charge Green Box a set $400 fee for the month-long swing attraction and other events that are associated with their festival. The festival organizers are tentatively planning to have the 12-swings installed and displayed in the park next to the Gazebo from June 18 to July 18, 2014.
In a compromise move, the town leaders endorsed the 12-swing concept and the project installation in the city’s park, but wanted to explore possible alternative fee arrangements with the Green Box organizers.
For more information about the exhibit and to see a video on how the musical swings work, visit www.tourisme-montreal.org/blog/21.