Santa Fe can be boring for teens, but when they're given the opportunity, youths jump to create events and support local teen artistry. This is at the heart of the Convergence Project, a teen-led program that promotes events like the Oasis Blacklight Party—quite literally what it sounds like—which has enjoyed three successful years at Meow Wolf. The group also has created the Oasis Festival, an annual music event entering its fourth year in the Santa Fe Railyard.
The Convergence Project is a community service program designed to create change for youths within the community, and it strives to establish creative spaces, support local high school-aged musicians, artists, dancers and writers. In short, the goal is to foster a more stimulating environment for Santa Fe youths.
The Convergence Project falls under the umbrella of Santa Fe Prep's Teen Action Program (TAP), a program designed to help students contribute to their community through service, event-planning and volunteering. In addition to events like the blacklight party and the Oasis Festival, the project hosts art workshops, designs and sells T-shirts, and helps teens become more involved in spearheading events they're passionate about. The goal is to make learning the organization and promotion ropes more accessible and doable.
"It is hard for many teens to get into the music scene or the art scene in Santa Fe," Oasis organizer and Convergence Project lead Peyton Ellis says. "[Convergence] brings teens together to create a supportive community."
Ellis, a junior at Prep, leads the project with assistance from teacher Russell Spinney.
"The purpose of the Convergence Project is to help young people articulate their ideas about what youth would like to see in the community," Spinney tells SFR. "The challenge is learning to help young people figure out all of the steps it takes to go from an idea to a real product or event—the process includes making mistakes and learning from our failures to help develop our anchor projects, and long-term, how we might sustain and evolve them."
Following this idea, Spinney helps only when the students need it, embodying the notion around which Convergence is centered: "For youth, by youth."
Although a youth-led project that reaches the caliber of the Oasis Festival is impressive in itself, Ellis aims to improve the logistics of the event this year. Auditions were held for the first time because, she says, the event had been "a little chaotic in the past."
This resulted in a stacked lineup including 253rd Street (a group comprised of local middle-schoolers), The High Vibes (a local band self-described as a "pop funk-rock group with lyrical ideas that promote one love, peace and the expansion of consciousness"), Santa Fe Youth Symphony's Jazz Ensemble, The Fantastic Foxes, Dzaki Sukarno and NDVRS (a local youth indie-pop act). Headlining the show is Los Angeles pop-rock trio Cherry Glazerr, the project of guitarist and vocalist Clementine Creevy. Cherry Glazerr hits someplace between indie-pop and grunge for catchy but raw punk-rock songs with feeling.
And the event isn't just about live music either; circus troupe Wise Fool New Mexico is scheduled to appear, and the National Dance Institute is reportedly working on routines to be performed between musical acts. Furthermore, Ellis tells SFR that organizers expect even higher attendance than previous years, pointing out a count of roughly 800 visitors at 2018's Oasis Festival.
"Teens love concerts because they're able to dance and it brings the whole community together," she adds. "I feel like [the Oasis Festival] is a great way for all the teens to bond."
3-9 pm Sunday May 26. Free. Santa Fe Railyard, Market and Alcaldesa Streets.