Many of you probably heard the announcement this week that Borders will be closing all of its remaining stores. Unable to find a buyer, the 40-year old company will begin the liquidation process at all of its 399 remaining stores on Friday. While that marks a major change in the book-selling business, it also means a lot of empty storefronts. One producer in Thousand Oaks, California is making great use of an empty Borders bookstore by throwing a summer-long arts festival in the 40,000 square foot space.
They’re calling the festival Open Borders and they’re putting on at least four shows per week as well as having daily gallery shows and performance art throughout the summer. All proceeds are going to support multiple non-profit organizations and charitable causes. They’ll also have an indoor cafe and outside food court featuring an eclectic selection of gourmet fare.
The summer line-up is amazing and eclectic. Here are some of the highlights:
Friday, July 22 – The Preservation Hall Jazz Band The Preservation Hall Jazz Band, a jazz ensemble that Rolling Stone magazine once called “the past and promise of American music,” has become both a fixture of New Orleans and an ambassadorial representative of the city it calls home. Deriving its name from Preservation Hall, the venerable music venue located in the heart of New Orleans’ French Quarter, the band has traveled worldwide spreading their mission to nurture and perpetuate the art form of New Orleans Jazz.
Saturday, July 23 – The Klezmatics The Klezmatics are globally-renowned world music superstars and the only klezmer band to win a Grammy award. The Klezmatics emerged out of the vibrant cultural scene of New York City’s East Village in 1986, steeped in Eastern European Jewish tradition and spirituality while incorporating contemporary themes such as human rights, anti-fundamentalism and eclectic musical influences including Arab, African, Latin and Balkan rhythms, jazz and punk. In the course of over twenty years and nine albums they have stubbornly continued making music that is wild, mystical, provocative, reflective and ecstatically danceable.
Sunday, July 24 – Daniel Johnston Put the name ‘Daniel Johnston’ into any internet search engine and you will find hundreds of pages about America’s most unlikely pop phenomenon and ‘outsider’ visual artist. He has, since his first crudely recorded cassette was released in 1980, spent the last three decades exposing his heartrending tales of unrequited love, cosmic mishaps and existential torment to an ever growing international cult audience. As a result, he’s been hailed as an American original akin to blues-man Robert Johnson and country legend Hank Williams. It wasn’t long before he became the singer/songwriter of choice for the burgeoning 90’s alternative/underground rock scene. His work has been championed by members of Sonic Youth, Yo La Tengo, Butthole Surfers, Half Japanese, and perhaps most notably by Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain, who was often photographed wearing the now infamous “Hi, How Are You?” t-shirt.
Saturday, July 30 – Ozomatli n their fifteen years together as a band, celebrated Los Angeles culture-mashers Ozomatli have gone from being hometown heroes to being named U.S. State Department Cultural Ambassadors. Ozomatli has always juggled two key identities. They are the voice of their city and they are citizens of the world. Their music a notorious urban-Latino-and-beyond collision of hip hop and salsa, dancehall and cumbia, samba and funk, merengue and comparsa, East LA R&B and New Orleans second line, Jamaican ragga and Indian raga has long followed a key mantra: it will take you around the world by taking you around L.A.
You can see a full list of events that they’re throwing here or visit their website for more information. While it’s sad to see a major bookseller go bankrupt, it’s encouraging to see forward thinking individuals turn the empty spaces into exciting and creative cultural centers. Anyone in your town making cool use of an empty Borders? Got any ideas on what you’d do with an empty Borders store at your disposal? Leave a comment and let us know.