Growing up in Santa Fe is hard. On Saturday nights, it's not uncommon for the "What's on for tonight?" texts to fizzle into nothingness. Nothing's ever on for tonight. When you visit friends or family in a big city, you've undoubtedly thought your life would be infinitely better and more exciting if you lived there; it seems like this town was designed for retirees who like museums and trails. One might even describe it to out-of-towners like, "It's pretty and the food is good, but it's not that exciting." And that's one of the main criticisms from Santa Fe youths—it can get boring here.
But maybe it doesn't have to be. The Convergence Project, a group of approximately 15 students from Santa Fe Prep, has been combatting this notion for the past five years with the motto "For youth, by youth." The group has pursued this goal by hosting two events: the winter Black Light Party at Meow Wolf last February and the upcoming Oasis Festival in the Railyard on Saturday May 26.
"Especially for places like Santa Fe, it's hard to find things to do, and local kids from Santa Fe, they understand that," Prep junior Lauren Johnson tells SFR. "They know what things will be accessible." Arielle Nathan, another junior at Prep, adds, "The purpose of Convergence is to provide opportunities to teenage artists in Santa Fe and New Mexico. So we have events that are created, promoted and designed by teenagers, and then all the events are for teenagers."
The members of Convergence are broken up into three groups for writing, art and music. The writing group applies for grants, creates buzz on social media and writes promo material for the concert. The art group helps with said promotional material and also creates the merchandise Convergence sells at the events. And, finally, the music group reaches out to artists, plans the concert and organizes the lineup.
This year's festival kicks off at 1 pm with registration for the chalk art competition (yes, there are prizes). And don't worry about lunch—the Back Road Pizza and Kebab Caravan food trucks are scheduled to appear, so you can stay focused on your art. After the chalk competition ends at 5 pm, it's all about the music. Groups like Lily and Gray (a twin singer-songwriter duo), Last Cause (teens from around Santa Fe), Dzaki (from Las Cruces) and a number of solo acts represent Santa Fe teens. New York City-based folk and soul-inspired pop act Overcoats close out the night. Also, expect a "surprise" performance by the National Dance Institute and a circus show by Wise Fool. It might be hard to be believe, but all of this is free—well, not the food, but the rest is.
"It's just been super cool to see something that was this crazy idea that I and a couple of my friends had two or three years ago take root as an established thing," says co-founder Oliver Hillenkamp. "It seems like something that has potential to happen every year and expand."
And expansion is on the group's mind. "This summer [we] want Convergence to reach more of Santa Fe than just Prep," says Nathan. "We're going to try to build it into other events and make some more things happen with organizers from other schools."
While they're not completely sure what they want for future iterations, Johnson hints at one possible event they're considering. "We're trying to work on some sort of cinematic aspect," she says. "Like a Sundance kind of playoff, so maybe that'll go somewhere next year."