4 Important Things to Know About Participating in FIGMENT Oakland

FIGMENT Oakland is a new annual event, heading into its second year on October 24, 2015.

It’s inclusive, family-friendly and totally free to participate and attend. With its anything-goes vibe and very open ended call for artworks, we get a lot of questions about what to expect.

Here are 4 really important things to consider while you’re planning your visit and planning what kind of project to bring:


FIGMENT Geelong,  © 2014 Miriam Fathalla


1. For best results, embrace interactivity

At FIGMENT, our goals are nothing less than transformative personal change. We encourage an environment full of energy, participation and creativity! We achieve being through doing.

One of the ways we do that is by focusing on projects that are interactive. For some artists and makers, this might be a stretch. For others, it’s natural. We believe that no matter what medium you choose for your creative expression, there’s room for some type of community participation. Communal effort creates special bonds between people, and we love to facilitate that by offering as many opportunities for collaboration as we possibly can! 

Some examples of interactivity and participation at FIGMENT are….

  • Live paintings completed with suggestions and help from participants

  • Drawing machines that visitors may remote-control

  • Dance workshops with a group performance where everyone is welcome

  • Scavenger hunts and other games

  • Electronic music or video that responds to people moving about a space

  • Bicycle decorating stations and costume tents open to all

  • Music performances with extra instruments available for when the audience is inspired to join the show



FIGMENT NYC,  © 2014 Tim Schreier


2. “Leaving no trace” is a really big deal

If you hang out at FIGMENT, chances are you’ll hear someone say, “Leave no trace.” This is one of the 11 core principles of FIGMENT. This means that we strive to leave no physical evidence of our presence, wherever we hold our events.

Why is this so important? We hope to nurture and grow our community of volunteers, artists, makers and doers. We do that by making friends wherever we go, showing respect for the spaces we visit and for each other. We know that by being respectful of the environment and of each others’ space, we are contributing to a better artistic community for everyone.



FIGMENT Boston, © 2014 David F. Parmenter


3. Be patient

At FIGMENT, you may not always know what to do, where to go or how things work. There will not always be signs or instructions. There will not always be someone to ask. But…that’s OK.

One of the greatest joys in life is found in discovery. If you take a little extra time to explore, play and wander, we think that you’ll find something you love and create an experience that is special and can’t be repeated. Interactive art creates a dynamic collaboration between the artist, the audience and their environment.  Allowing those connections to grow takes a little bit of time.

One other thing about patience: Since its inception in 2005, FIGMENT has been run entirely by volunteers. (Full disclosure: We now have 2 honest-to-gosh paid employees who help with global logistics and manage the books, but the hundreds of others making it run are still volunteers.) This means that we’re never short on passion, but sometimes short on people and polish.

We also make great efforts to include as many projects, artists and participants of all kinds as we possibly can. Sometimes this means that participants must be a bit more self-sufficient than at a traditional “arts festival.” We feel the payoff - more freedom, less restrictions and more inclusion - is well worth it.



FIGMENT Oakland, © 2014 Calista Chandler


4. Bring an open mind

Some people describe FIGMENT as an “art festival.” We prefer to think of it as more of a “creative community event.” For some people, calling something “art” places a wall between themselves and creativity...and we want to break that down!

We love the idea that everyone can be creative in so many ways. That’s why FIGMENT is open to all art and all artistic mediums—from opera to decorating cookies (and yes, both have been seen at FIGMENT before). Art can include performance, street theater, costuming, sculpture, inflatable sculptures, dance, performance art, installations, social experiments, mobile art, workshops, games, community building projects, arts & crafts, sound art, bands & DJs, lectures & seminars on themes of participatory art & culture, and anything else you can imagine!

To get the most out of participating at FIGMENT (including bringing your own projects!), remember to keep an open mind...about what “art” can be, about how people should behave around it, and about what is possible if we all create something together.

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