More Than Just Cutoffs | JORTSFEST’s Accessibility & Community Trend

By July 10, 2017 No Comments

Atlanta’s festival saluting everyone’s favorite fashion faux pas is back and at it again. JORTSFEST, which at first glance may seem like a homage to Britney and JT’s unforgettable style misstep, is celebrating their fifth year with their always free, always all ages, and always accessible essence in tow. Maria Sotnikova, along with Carter Sutherland, have more than a killer lineup under their belted denim. This year, each performing musician will be partnering with local initiatives that give back to the local community.

While you may have retired your cutoffs along with your bucket hat one thing’s for sure, this year’s JORTSFEST is sure to be straight flames (which in fashion lingo means super-dope).

Maria, tell us how JORTSFEST is matching performers with initiatives they’re passionate about. 

My partner, Carter, is very into the intersection of art and activism. This idea came to fruition where initially he did an interview with Creative Loafing talking about how he’d like to see more musicians become more active politically and in their communities. If there’s an issue or event that’s behind your art, as a musician, why not express that and engage people.

It rose out of that and initially we thought about having some sort of microgrant competition where we allow people to present ideas that they want to be funded but realized we aren’t at that stage as an organization. We can’t fund other initiatives just yet but we know a lot of really passionate musicians who are really strong advocates for the issues they believe in. Why not give them a platform to express that?

Do you know what nonprofits you’re working with yet?

We do! We aren’t announcing them just yet but they range from child health care to LGBTQ rights to mental health assistance. It runs the gamut of different causes and we’re excited to give those voices a platform in whatever way we can.

You have a Kickstarter to raise funds for the festival and to help launch you into nonprofit status. What was your reasoning behind that decision?

I have to be honest, I hate fundraising. It is the least fun part of the job for me. Becoming a nonprofit means more structure and work but it also means more opportunity for us to seek additional funding in other ways, whether it’s tax deductible donations or applying for grants. It also allows us to work with legitimate entities and government.

Last year, JORTSFEST was honored to be asked by the City of Atlanta’s Cultural Affairs Office, along with the Goat Farm, to be part of the ELEVATE Atlanta public art event the city holds. The problem is, in order to be involved with more events like that, we have to either find a parent nonprofit or become a nonprofit ourselves. After seeing how useful that could be for us, we made the decision to seek nonprofit status.

It’s also very important to us to remain intersectional and acknowledge the fact that accessibility means a lot of different things to a lot of different people. Just like having a disability is on a spectrum, so too is any cultural identity you might belong to.

We make it free so income isn’t an issue. We make it transit accessible so people who may not have access to a vehicle can get there easier from a train. We try to make it as barrier-free as possible.

What are you most looking forward to?

I’m really excited about the line-up we were able to get. If you would have asked me even three years ago if I dreamed we’d have the lineup that we have now, I would not be able to even comprehend it. The range of musical talent this year is amazing and even more so, the support we’ve received from various communities. I’m just excited to see where that will take us in the future.

Eager to know more about JORTSFEST? Check out this article from Creative Loafing and this one by Immersive Atlanta. If you’re waiting with bated breath to wiggle into your jorts, make sure you support JORTSFEST’s Kickstarter to ensure they’ll have an unforgettable – and accessible – event. 

Headline photo property of Katrina Merto and inline photo property of Bryce Center.