Duncan Macklem-Johnson is a student at Perpich Center for Arts Education and a resident of St. Louis Park. As part of his studies at Perpich, he was assigned an independent project related to music. Duncan chose to organize a benefit concert to support Avenues for Youth, and he has worked hard to organize the venue, performers, budget, marketing, logistics, and more. We sat down with Duncan to learn more about his journey with this proejct.
How did you decide to do a benefit concert for your independent project?
Every year at Perpich Center for Arts Education, the music department assigns its students an independent project. The instructions are to work out an idea with an advisor that would teach you something related to music and set up a structure that can help you achieve this goal over the course of 3 months. This year I chose to plan a benefit concert because it holds the opportunity to teach me about the music industry and it also benefits the community that has supported me in my path to become an artist.
How did you choose the charity? What’s special about them to you?
I have been volunteering at organizations that help the community as long as I remember, but for this show I decided to pick and organization that I had not previously worked with. I read through many different articles and websites about a variety of different organizations and the one that stuck out to me the most was Avenues for Youth. Avenues offers shelter to homeless youth around Twin Cities area, but what made them so memorable was that they didn't stop there. They help all the people that come through their doors to attain and sustain a stable life. They teach them valuable life skills such as cooking, and they also teach them how to set up a resume and secure a job. The passion that these people share for the community goes beyond what I could have imagined and that's why I chose to plan this concert in their name. I have been in contact with several members of their staff and all of them are very welcoming and excited for my project.
What has been the biggest challenge so far, or a challenge that you didn’t expect to face?
So far the biggest challenge has been the anticipation. The St. Louis Park community has been very supportive, but even with all the support the fear of failure always lingers. Luckily this has driven me to seek as many opportunities to advertise and add elements to this event. The anticipation has not ended yet but as more time passes I believe that this feeling will slowly dwindle because of all the support that still has yet to come.
What have you learned about yourself or about putting on a benefit concert through this process?
Through this project I have learned that I am much more productive when I keep my things organized. In my artistic life I find comfort in the imperfect and unorganized, but planning an event is made much easier with an organized approach.