Houston Institute for Culture
Support
Newsletter
Calendar
Directory
Contents
Search
Home Page


A Gulf Coast Juneteenth


2008 EVENT EVALUATION


Event Description

A Gulf Coast Juneteenth was held on June 19, 2008 at Miller Outdoor Theatre in Houston's Hermann Park. The event featured three full sets by experienced and award-winning musicians, including ReBirth Brass Band (New Orleans, Louisiana), Geno Delafose and French Rockin' Boogie (Eunice, Louisiana) and Sherman Robertson and Trudy Lynn with a live band (Houston, Texas). There were three solo performances of songs commissioned for Juneteenth by Tony Henry, Corey Ledet and Tamara Williams. The event emcees were Ada Edwards and Patrick Trajan. Additional guests who welcomed the audience were Wanda Adams and Rick Noriega. The event started at 7:00pm and ended on time at 10:30pm.

A Gulf Coast Juneteenth was produced by Houston Institute for Culture and Surviving Katrina and Rita in Houston, with HIFC being responsible for funds and grant reporting. Funding for A Gulf Coast Juneteenth was provided by the City of Houston through the Miller Theatre Advisory Board and the National Endowment for the Arts. In-kind support was provided by Houston Institute for Culture. Media sponsorship was provided by KPFT Pacifica radio and KTRU Rice University radio. Promotional support was provided by the Buffalo Soldiers National Museum, Community Artists' Collective, the Houston Blues Society, Project Row Houses, and Talking Back Living History. View Event Information


CONTENTS

Event Goals
Attendance
Comments
Promotion
Media
Tourism
Conclusion
Recommendations


Event Goals

The event stands as the largest Juneteenth celebration in the region and has the following goals:

To provide an event of the highest quality local and regional music entertainment to the population of Houston for free

To educate people about Juneteenth, which ranks among the most significant historic events of Houston and the region

To revitalize the local celebration of Juneteenth as a major performing arts event in Houston that is known nationally


Recommendations

As the largest celebration of Juneteenth, work to increase support for all Juneteenth events in the immediate region

Work to realize the potential for growth of A Gulf Coast Juneteenth as an event that ranks high among city-supported free public events

Increase support from the City of Houston, possibly becoming an "official" city event

Expand activities associated with A Gulf Coast Juneteenth



Attendance

Attendance was estimated at 3,000. The goal is to build an event tradition for Juneteenth that will reach the capacity of Miller Outdoor Theatre, which is 7,000. Attendance for this first effort was very respectable and would likely have been substantially higher, but for a thunderstorm that moved through Houston between 3:30 and 5:30pm on the day of the event.

Attendance was diverse, though mostly comprised African Americans and Anglos. There were Latinos and international visitors, notably Ukrainian, Russian, Indian and Mexican. There were numerous students from Rice University. People of all ages, from young children to retired adults were present. The accessibility of the theater and relatively close handicapped-designated parking was utilized by handicapped people. The organization received several calls inquiring about handicap accessibility prior to the event.

People from many Latin American nations have a particular interest in the abolition of slavery as many of the nations ended slavery decades before the U.S. and prohibition of slavery remains a substantial part of their constitutions. Latinos generally have an interest in being part of the major public and historic events offered by the city. The event should be promoted in Houston communities with concentrations of Latino and Spanish-speaking populations.

Numerous people were in Hermann Park (some even waiting in the theatre seats) during the day and increasingly in the hours before the event seeking Juneteenth-related activities and having cookouts.

Weather was disruptive to people and some of the performers traveling to the event during Houston's rush hour (though performers were on time for sound checks and sets). Weather patterns that are traditional to Houston in June make certain realities that will affect attendance during some years.


Recommendations

Organize a committee to promote the event to large institutions throughout the city

Promote interest in the history and featured music to Latinos through distribution of Spanish-language fliers

Though attendance at area universities and secondary schools is lighter in summer, seek involvement of student groups

Follow promotion recommendations below



Comments

Audience comments were overwhelmingly positive. More than a hundred positive comments were received at the Houston Institute for Culture table during the event and dozens more were received by phone, email and in person in the days following the event.

The most revealing and detailed of these comments came from Carissa Baldwin:
Last night was truly amazing. That was the best live music I have ever heard, and I am from Austin. Thank you all so much for making this city better than it is. Thank you for a fantastic, superb way to be together and celebrate Juneteenth.

The comment speaks to the potential of Houston to be known by many more people throughout be region as a music city and the potential to utilize the music of the region to celebrate Juneteenth.

Organizations offered information to interested attendees at tables on the plaza beside the theatre, including KPFT Pacifica radio, the Buffalo Soldiers National Museum, the Houston Blues Society, Project Row Houses, and Metro. They each had positive feedback on their audience interaction. Though it isn't in our area of responsibility, the concession stands appeared busy throughout the event. We would be interested to know to gage support for all aspects of the event.

Audience members were interested in free posters and post cards that were given away at the Houston Institute for Culture table. They sometimes inquired about event t-shirts (which were only available through Cafe Press) and books that we displayed (to give interested individuals an idea about literature that is available on the regional music presented).


Recommendations

Present a comment card that can be distributed and collected at the information table

Add an on-line form for feedback to the HIFC website

Increase the outreach for the event through a promotional committee with a major goal to increase input from wide communities

Sell t-shirts for ongoing promotion of the event

Consider selling books on local music, i.e. Roger Woods' books on Blues and Zydeco



Promotion

Since the goal is to revitalize the local celebration of Juneteenth as a major event in Houston that is known nationally, promotion was extensive and started as soon as funding was secured and event details were confirmed.

Press releases were provided to major media and many specialty publications more than three months prior to the event, which resulted in listings in Texas Highways and Smithsonian Magazine, among others.

We utilized a unique web address (june19.org) to direct interested people to the event info on line and to offer a short address that can be communicated easily. (NOte: this was also necessary because HIFC has other events to promote on its website in the early stages of promotion of Juneteenth.)

The website featured event info, artist bios and articles on the history of Juneteenth and related interests.

Much of the flier design and other technical needs (like website updates) were done in-house to meet short deadlines. A poster was professionally designed, but with only about two weeks for distribution.

Promotion included:
-Direct mail (1,900)
-Flier Distribution (10,000)
-Poster distribution (500 of 1,000; many more were given away at the event)
-Radio media sponsorship
-Press releases (80 calendar release; 80 press release; 110 electronic media releases)
-Website promotion
-Social networking website promotion
-Print and electronic media features
-Interviews with artists on radio
-Radio features on the music lineup
-Public service announcements on electronic media outlets
-Appearances on broadcast public/cultural affairs programs
-Participation in Miller Outdoor Theatre promotional activity, including a press conference with the Mayor's office
-Listings in major state and national media


Recommendations

The Houston Institute for Culture website is viewed approximately 6,000 times per day in busy periods. The number of visitors per day on average throughout the year is 3,400, and nearly 50 million hits per year. Those stats are for all pages on HIFC websites, but the number of viewers of any individual page is only a small fraction of those stats. By placing a banner graphic that we control and can change throughout the year, we can promote our most important current activity to an extremely large audience. For example, we can promote Juneteenth on the banner featured on hundreds of pages from approximately mid or late April through June 19 and potentially make over 100,000 readers aware of the event.

During the event we collected a list of about 50 interested individuals to serve as volunteers on a committee to promote Juneteenth. Additionally, we made contacts with organizations that have similar interests in promoting Juneteenth, beyond our already high number of contacts. This creates the potential for cooperative, increased promotion of A Gulf Coast Juneteenth and all other Juneteenth events in the city.

Small businesses and larger national corporations were interested in sponsorship of the event. With better preparation we will be able to place a value on this and see that sponsorship directly enhances promotion of the event and increases the quality of entertainment that is offered.

Sponsorship will require that deadlines be moved up substantially, in order to confirm sponsors and include them on the poster, as well as distribute the poster more effectively.

Recommendations include:

Promote A Gulf Coast Juneteenth through a large committee to as many major institutions in the city as possible, including churches, businesses, universities and government agencies

Consider corporate sponsorship to increase exposure through radio and other media and other effective promotion of the event

Promote more effectively at events that precede June 19, including the Houston International Festival and other events at Miller Outdoor Theatre

    -Present a table at the International festival to promote Juneteenth and other Miller Outdoor Theatre events, with support of the theatre

    -Employ college students to distribute fliers at approximately 20 events for two hours each leading up to Juneteenth

Place ads in printed programs of Miller Outdoor Theatre productions that precede Juneteenth

Place an ad or flier in the Leisure Learning catalogue that is distributed widely in the city during the months before Juneteenth

Promote through newsletters of major business, religious, government and education institutions in Houston

Seek increased listings and features in major state and national media

Continue upgrade of HIFC website to include a uniform promotional banner to feature Juneteenth on many pages during weeks leading up to the event

Promote more extensively in surrounding communities and in adjacent counties

Secure promotional materials from featured artists quickly to promote more effectively



Media

The event received good promotion through media in the city, state and nation. Local coverage was provided by the Houston Chronicle, Houston Press, several community newspapers and websites, KPFT, KTRU, KBXX, KMJQ, KROI, KPVU, KTSU, KCOH, Channel 2, Channel 13, and more.

Highlights among these include a column that appeared in the Houston Press [http://www.houstonpress.com/2008-06-12/music/juneteenth-revisited] and live on-air interviews featuring artists and event promoters on KPFT, KTRU, KROI and Channel 2. Major public service announcements were provided by KPFT (Pacifica), KTRU (Rice Radio), KBXX (The Box) and KROI (Praise).

The event was listed in state and national publications, including Texas Highways, Texas Monthly and Smithsonian Magazine.


Recommendations

Work to further educate local and national media on the significance of Juneteenth



Tourism

Based on the source of City of Houston funding, the event is required to suit guidelines that require it to promote tourism in the city. A Gulf Coast Juneteenth not only raised the level of quality programming in the city that makes it a destination for tourists, but it received state and national exposure, even being recommended by Smithsonian Magazine as the Number 3 "Hotspot" in the nation in the article "Destination America." This was accomplished by Houston Institute for Culture as it promotes its most significant events nationally and works to increase awareness of the region's significant historic events and diverse traditions.

Promotional materials were provided through the City of Houston Visitor Center and through the Texas Department of Transportation. Direct mail was sent to nearly 2,000 interested persons throughout the greater southeast Texas region.

While we don't know the origins of all the attendees, we received calls from people who planned to attend from as far away as Georgia and California. We also don't know how many came from out of town who came mainly to attend A Gulf Coast Juneteenth. It is possible to achieve a status over time that will bring people to Houston with the primary goal to attend the event.


Recommendations

Expand promotion to more national media, including national music publications

Promote to specific national magazines, such as American Legacy: the Magazine of African American History and Culture

Promote the event to airline magazines, particularly Southwest and Continental



Conclusion

Additional logistics will be evaluated and additional comments will be posted as more people are involved in the process.

Production and promotion timelines will also be added when committee meetings begin.



Summary of Recommendations

Work to increase support for all Juneteenth events in the immediate region

Work to realize the potential for growth of A Gulf Coast Juneteenth as an event that ranks high among city-supported free public events

Increase support from the City of Houston, possibly becoming an "official" city event

Expand activities associated with A Gulf Coast Juneteenth

Organize a committee to promote the event to large institutions throughout the city

Promote interest in the history and featured music to Latinos through distribution of Spanish-language fliers

Seek involvement of student groups

Present a comment card that can be distributed and collected at the information table

Add an on-line form for feedback

Sell t-shirts for ongoing promotion of the event

Consider corporate sponsorship to increase exposure through radio and other media, and other effective promotion of the event

Promote more effectively at events that precede June 19, including the Houston International Festival and other events at Miller Outdoor Theatre

Place ads in printed programs of Miller Outdoor Theatre productions that precede Juneteenth

Place an ad or flier in the Leisure Learning catalogue that is distributed widely in the city during the months before Juneteenth

Promote through newsletters of major business, religious, government and education institutions in Houston

Seek increased listings and features in major state and national media

Continue upgrade of HIFC website to include a uniform promotional banner to feature Juneteenth on many pages during weeks leading up to the event

Promote more extensively in surrounding communities and in adjacent counties

Secure promotional materials from featured artists quickly to promote more effectively

Work to further educate local and national media on the significance of Juneteenth

Expand promotion to more national media, including national music publications

Promote to specific national magazines, such as American Legacy: the Magazine of African American History and Culture

Promote the event to airline magazines, particularly Southwest and Continental



View Event Information



  HOUSTON INSTITUTE FOR CULTURE    DONATE    SEARCH    info@houstonculture.org