Folk Al­liance con­fer­ence mov­ing to Chat­tanooga

Chattanooga Times Free Press - - REGION - BY BARRY COURTER STAFF WRITER

SERFA, the south­east­ern re­gional chap­ter of Folk Al­liance In­ter­na­tional, has out­grown the Mon­treat Con­fer­ence Cen­ter in North Carolina and will move its an­nual con­fer­ence to Chat­tanooga for the next five years, ac­cord­ing to Ex­ec­u­tive Di­rec­tor Art Me­nius.

Next year’s con­fer­ence will be held May 15-19, 2019, at The Chat­tanoogan. The event is de­signed for in­dus­try pro­fes­sion­als rather than fans, bring­ing to­gether artists, song­writ­ers, pre­sen­ters, DJs and other in­dus­try types.

“We’re very ex­cited that SERFA is mov­ing to Chat­tanooga,” said Mary Howard Ade, mu­sic mar­ket­ing man­ager with the Chat­tanooga Con­ven­tion and Vis­i­tors Bureau, which was in­volved in bring­ing the con­fer­ence to Chat­tanooga. “This will be a great cul­tural and ed­u­ca­tional event for our city, con­nect­ing our lo­cal mu­sic com­mu­nity to a large re­gional net­work of folk mu­si­cians and pro­fes­sion­als.”

The days are filled with in­for­ma­tional sem­i­nars and work­shops, and the evenings are mu­sic-filled, with fea­tured per­form­ers (“of­fi­cial show­cases”) fol­lowed by latenight shows in in­ti­mate set­tings (“guer­rilla show­cases.”)

“We sim­ply out­grew the Mon­treat Cen­ter,” Me­nius said. “At­ten­dees had been clam­our­ing for more ameni­ties for years and put it

[out for bid.] Chat­tanooga and Knoxville pur­sued it the hard­est, and when we saw The Chat­tanoogan, it has an en­tire wing that is ex­actly what we were look­ing for.”

He said the con­fer­ence cen­ter/ho­tel has enough rooms one floor up, which will be tai­lor-made for the pri­vate show­cases and meet­ings that are part of the con­fer­ence. He said those rooms also have space where peo­ple can get off to the side rather that go out into a hall­way.

“That wing looks like it was built to host the SERFA con­fer­ence,” Me­nius said.

Chat­tanooga’s prox­im­ity to other large South­ern cities also is a bonus.

“It’s eas­ier to get to for folks in Birm­ing­ham, At­lanta, Knoxville and Nashville. I know peo­ple think of it as a coun­try mu­sic city, but there are a lot of folk artists and in­dus­try peo­ple there.”

Me­nius said he ex­pects about 300 reg­is­tered

at­ten­dees for the con­fer­ence. Many of the artists who at­tend are new and look­ing to make con­tacts with la­bel and book­ing agents, but some are estab­lished artists who live in other parts of the coun­try and are look­ing to ex­pand their tour­ing foot­print and au­di­ence.

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