The Untitled Interview #195: Starring Joe Concra (O+ Festival)

Sure, festivals are (for the most part) a raging good time, multiple-day celebrations of music (and oftentimes arts in general) that expose festival-goers to bands both new and established. But sometimes, amidst all that fun and occasional hedonism, we all might miss something. Such as the importance of healthcare. A hot button issue if ever there was one these days, healthcare is at the forefront of the mission of the O+ Festival. Not only does the festival seek to provide patrons with incredible bands to enjoy, but the organizers went into social responsibility mode and made healthcare for the arts community a centerpiece of their platform. It's beyond worthwhile, and if you're not familiar with the festival or its mission, I'm happy to help.

Joe Concra, one of the festival's co-founders, took some time out of his (ridiculously) busy schedule to shed some light on the movement that is O+. Read on, and absorb the good word. If you're feeling inspired to help, make sure you holler at the organizers.

Fuzzy Logic: For those who might not be familiar with the O+ Fesitval, please explain what it is, and how it differs from other music/arts festivals.
Joe Concra: The O+ Festival is a three-day, community-run celebration of music and the arts. O+ participating artists exchange their contributions for health care services from art-loving doctors, dentists, and other wellness providers at the O+ Clinic. In short, it’s a grassroots, band-aid solution to inaccessible healthcare for the creative community. By programming the festival’s art and music events in various, venues (bars, restaurants, storefronts, even offices) throughout one neighborhood, O+ supports and unites local businesses and residents, artists, musicians and doctors, strengthening the fabric of a community to make it stronger, more sustainable, and more vibrant.

FL: What led the founders down the path of creation for O+?
Need really. We came together as a community with open hearts to address something that was lacking. It started with a spark and now it is spreading...

FL: I'm sure there are many, but what's your favorite moment thus far in the history of O+?
JC: I have too many favorites. Seeing artists and musicians get access to care in exchange for their creative contributions is just mind blowing. Every year there is another story of exchange that makes my eyes tear up. Watching bands point out the doctors that treat them and call them the real rock stars is always nice. So many stories to tell. Last year Richard Buckner got up infront of 600 people to perform and said that he had $700 worth of dental care done in exchange for his performance. No money changes hands...we just look at this as a equal exchange. Beautiful.

FL: How are the bands and health providers and local establishments selected for the festival?
JC: Everyone applies and there are selection committees, this past year 220 bands and 95 artists applied. On the health side it just keeps building because all the providers just tell others they know.

FL: You've already expanded to include a festival in San Francisco. How did that come about, and how do you envision future growth for O+?
JC: We have a O+ playbook which describes how to do it and if you contact us we start a conversation and see if we could work with you . We know some of the organizers in SF so the choice was easy and we are all excited.

FL: In light of current events here in DC, the political views on health/insurance are pretty polarizing. Have you had any political response, either positive or negative, about the festival?
JC: NO. Health insurance or not we are about wellness and access. We exchange for services which usually are not covered by health insurance plans.  


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