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January 5, 2015

Moving Music

As he prepares to take his event out of the city for the first time and into the under-utilised spaces of Port Adelaide, Moving Music founder Sam Wright reflects on the importance of always evolving.

  • Words: Brendan Cooper
  • Pictures: Andre Castellucci

“It’s a different kind of time; no longer is the big rock and roll festival the want of the arts,” says Sam Wright. 

“You can’t just throw up a bunch of fences, put up some bars, and think that people still like doing that. They don’t! It’s insane in my eyes. I don’t think there’s a future for those events.”

Sam Wright – the man behind The Make Ready Lab – is a new breed of festival curator and co-ordinator. Fresh from the success of his recent event Bus to Big Trees, Sam is now focused on bringing together the fifth Moving Music – a music and arts expedition that will slink through the streets of Port Adelaide early next year.

“I’m a workaholic. The laptop, for me, is like the man’s shed,” he says.

Sam’s resume, which has been accumulating since he graduated from Univeristy in 2010, certainly reflects his fondness for work. He’s contributed to a number of different festivals and events – working on everything from the Adelaide Festival to smaller-scale projects of his own conception like A Band on a Boat.

Jonti performs at the 2014 event

Jonti performs at the 2014 event

“I’ve had a broad brush across all fields… [I’ve learnt that] I can be a one-man team, and know what to expect of other people when I’m working with them. But most of the time it’s just me, because I can’t afford anyone else,” he says with a laugh. 

Since its debut back in January of 2012, Moving Music has been growing and evolving along with Sam’s vision of how audiences can become a part of an event rather than just being spectators. 

“Moving Music is an urban safari of performance art,” he says. “It’s driven a lot by the audience now. People call it a festival, probably because it’s an en masse gathering of people that celebrate art. They’re very much part of it – the audience. Which is probably not so much the case of many festivals that exist.”

In Sam’s world, audience participation runs much deeper than the stereotype of sitting at a stand-up comedy gig, hoping the comic doesn’t single you out for your strange haircut or silly floral shirt. Instead, Moving Music sees people creating their own experience of the event as they walk between each venue and get lured into various side activities that ask them to think, interact and share with those around them. 

Getting something new and of this scale off the ground in Adelaide can prove challenging because of the city’s smaller population size. But Sam has gone down a slightly different path than your average festival organiser. Rather than relying soley on beer company sponsors, money from investors or from his own pocket, Sam shares financial responsibility for the event with the punters through crowd-funding.

“It started to make so much more sense to me – to sell those ideas and fund them from the desire of people to be included,” says Sam. “[Crowd funding site]Pozible allows that – it allows the audience to feel included and for people to back you in any stage of the project’s life.”


Moving Music will be enlivening Port Adelaide with the help of partners Our Port on January 10, 2015. You can buy tickets via the Pozible site.

The lineup at the time of writing is looking impressive, with musicians and artists such as Emma Beech, Tom West, Jupiter, Alphabette, Gary Seaman, Rainbow Chan, Tilly Cobham-Hervey, Luke Million, The Happy Motel, Callan Fleming, Josephine Were, Ammyranth, Brokers, Alexander Ramsay, Ashton Malcolm, Amber Cronin, Erin Fowler and Lukus Robbins on the bill.

“I like the transparency of it. You can see this is how much it’s going to cost to run this project, and this is how many tickets are left. I think putting the numbers out there and showing people a realistic vision of what it takes to do these events is a nice education as well. It’s vital for people to understand that if you don’t support it, it won’t happen or be there in a year’s time.”

Happy punters continue revelling as night falls

Happy punters continue revelling as night falls

Sam says the Pozible funding model also improves his ability to program events that are designed to work for the number of people who end up attending.  

“Put it this way, a band could still perform on stage at a festival if there was only ten people watching,” he says. “If Moving Music didn’t have a sheer mass of people, the theories of what we’re testing in performance art wouldn’t work, because it relies on the audience to make it. I think that’s why it keeps doing well, because we give respect to the audience as a part of it.”

Sam’s logical and realistic outlook on running a successful business project is sobering; if you don’t stay relevant, you become obsolete, and you’re going the way of the once popular has-been. But it’s his belief in the importance of art and ideas that his gotten him this far. 

“The one tradition of the arts is hoping the audience come and enjoy it,” he says. “That’s what we want at the end of the day, bums on seats, or in the crowd. I believe that creativity is currency, and whenever you’re more creative people are going to want to go. They’re going to want to buy tickets. Yes the business, the way you do it, the structure is important – but that’s just part of running any business. The actual products that you deliver, that’s where you will kind of thrive or die.”

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