Price Hill Creative Community Festival Defies Genre

More than 50 performances will unfold at this weekend's festival, which takes place July 19 and 20 and features four artists-in-residence

click to enlarge Eddy Kwon playing with the Price Hillharmonic orchestra at a recent MyCincinnati event - NICK SWARTSELL
Nick Swartsell
Eddy Kwon playing with the Price Hillharmonic orchestra at a recent MyCincinnati event

The fourth iteration of the Price Hill Creative Community Festival will take place at four distinct but physically close venues in East Price Hill, including the one-time home of the late actress Doris Day. More than 50 performances will unfold, representing a variety of musical and artistic styles, with shows featuring PHCCF’s four artists-in-residence taking place at the MYCincinnati Firehouse, one of the venues that also acts as an unofficial headquarters. 

Eddy Kwon is the program director for MYCincinnati, which provides youths who live/attend school in Price Hill with free musical instruction, both during the school year and over the summer. 

“The core of what makes MYCincinnati really special is that we’re a family; we’re a community,” Kwon says. “Our orchestra and our ensemble is kind of the vehicle in which we practice being in a community together.”

That community focus is integral to the PHCCF. MYCincinnati students are involved in many of the festival’s performances, including the works of each of the four artists-in-residence, which helps bring that layered vision to life.

“Our artists-in-residence program was created the same year as the festival’s founding, so our artists-in-residence program is really at the core of what makes the festival special and unique,” Kwon says.

The artists-in-residence include Detroit-based musician Shara Nova, founding member of Chamber Pop band My Brightest Diamond, who will examine “what it means to be a creative and engaged citizen.” There will also be a performance by Byda Circo, a trio of Mexican circus performers who will combine their daring antics of juggling, acrobatics and stilting with the work of the MYCincinnati students to create a piece called ¡El vecindario es un circo! or Neighborhood is a circus!

Rounding out the festivities are two locally sourced artists-in-residence. Jennie “Black Budda’fly” Wright, a renowned slam poet and Cincinnati native, will present  the Sankofa Experience, an interactive piece exploring the Harlem Renaissance from an artistic, musical and fashion lens. There’s also Hip Hop artist Roberto, who incorporates live instrumentation into his beats. His performance, The Last Day of Summer, will bring strings, winds, keys and percussion into the fold for a feature-length Hip Hop piece. 

Napoleon Maddox is a former artist-in-residence who has been involved in all of the past festivals but is unable to attend this year because he is working in France; he champions the development of the festival and those involved. 

“This has been a kind of evolution of different sharings and collaborations and being part of a creative community that’s really charged and excited to continue exploring critical and creative work,” Maddox says. 

The festival has grown since its inception and so has the involvement of people behind the scenes. Marlo Salem has previous experience as festival coordinator. Although they didn’t expect to return to the position this year due to work obligations, Salem said that the stars were aligned after they quit their job. 

“I reached out to see if they needed anything, and the coordinator that was taking over this year (for PHCCF) had also just left,” Salem says.

Salem finds that the festival’s mission to “use collaborative performing arts as a tool to build more creative and inclusive communities” is followed through by its curation. 

Some areas of inclusivity haven’t been able to be fully realized, due to issues like building ownership. Two venues, El Día and 3117 Warsaw Ave., are not up to Americans with Disabilities Act design standards. 

“It’s a priority for us to make the spaces each as accessible as possible,” Kwon says. “Some spaces are going to be harder to do that just because some of the structural constraints and what we’re legally and not legally allowed to do”

If the venues can’t be changed immediately, the festival can still act as a catalyst for change, particularly in an artistic sense. Kwon refers to the PHCCF as “anti-genre” due to how they resist such pigeonholing of musicians and the historical racial component of it. As Kwon puts it, genre “was a way to code racism so that consumers could then reinforce those systems of racism.”

“We very strongly hold to the tenets of supporting and uplifting black and indigenous people of color, people of color, queer people of color, queer trans people of color, and if you look at the lineup, it’s there,” Salem says. “It’s not just that we’re spouting diversity; it’s truly for and of the demographics of our city.” 


The Price Hill Creative Community Festival takes place July 19 and 20 in East Price Hill. Find more information at creativecommunityfestival.org.



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