Music & arts festival encourages residents to “own Provo”

In a college town full of rental agreements and temporary residents, the Sego Arts Foundation is encouraging students to take a bigger part in supporting the local music and arts community.

The Foundation will hold the third annual Sego Festival on Sept. 26 and 27 in Provo. This year’s Sego Festival will showcase over fifty local bands on six stages, as well as screenings of local films and giant murals painted by local artists.

Festival founder Maht Paulos says this year’s festival will integrate both music and art more cohesively than the previous two Sego Festivals.

“This year we’ve treated the bands as artists, and curated them in the festival as if it was an art exhibit,” Paulos said. “The festival will truly be a piece of art in and of itself”.

The two-day outdoor festival is the culminating event for the Sego Arts Foundation, which has been actively promoting awareness of artistic talent in Utah County well before becoming a registered non-profit earlier this year.

The theme of this year’s festival is “Own Provo.” Festival organizers say this theme is designed to encourage all residents, both temporary and permanent, to play a bigger role in supporting the arts in Provo and to take pride in the talent and culture in their own backyard.

“A lot of bands get pigeonholed for being from Provo,” said local musician Joe Castor. “Like being from Provo is looked down upon for being a cultural handicap. It’s frustrating because there are so many great bands here.”

Castor, along with Paulos, are founding members of the Provo band Mathematics Et Cetera, who are also playing at this year’s festival.

“Sego is about a lot of cool bands playing together because they like where they live, they like the music they’re making, and they like you,” Castor said.

The festival has proved to be successful in providing a sense of community among local artists and musicians.

“I’d say that past Sego Festivals have been very strongly communal, which I think is important in rock music,” said local musician John-Ross Boyce.

Boyce, along with his band, Pierrot Le Fou, gave one of the keynote performances of the rainy Sego Festival in September 2007. The band dodged electrocution and the flu, belting out their proto-punk anthems to a close-knit crowd of local music enthusiasts, who, after toughing it through the rain, have proved that they could never be fairly deemed fairweather fans.

Often the advertising for the festival is a work of art in itself. Bands, artists, and volunteers work together to promote the Sego Festival with a grassroots street team equipped with online viral video clips, posters designed by local artists, and even sidewalk chalk murals in downtown Provo.
Jake and Melissa Haws, owners of local venue Muse Music and Cafe, hope that the festival will expose local music and art to a new, broader audience.

“Sego Festival shows college students that there’s more to do in Provo than the dollar theater,” Melissa Haws said.

The Sego Festival, like The Sego Arts Foundation, is named after the sego lily, Utah’s state flower. The Sego Arts Foundation recently initiated the Gallery Stroll, which showcases downtown Provo culture and business on the first Friday night of every month.

This year’s festival will kick off Friday evening with a block-party-style concert on 100 N. University Ave. in downtown Provo. The festivities will resume at noon Saturday at Rock Castle Amphitheater, located at 1300 E. Center St. in Provo, and last until 11 p.m. Admission to Sego Festival is free.

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