FORM will not take place in Arcosanti in 2020.
The eclectic festival, held for three days in the Paolo Soleri-designed community of Arcosanti 70 miles north of Phoenix, has decided to pivot the event this year, per a Facebook post on the city's website. The gathering was conceived originally as part of the release of band Hundred Waters’ 2014 album, The Moon Rang Like a Bell. It has featured headliners such as Florence + the Machine and Mulatu Astatke, the Ethiopian jazz pioneer. Phoenix Afrobeat Orchestra performed there in 2018, one of the few Arizona artists to do so.
If you're unfamiliar with the event's history, it started as a free festival, with attendees filling out questionnaires about why they wanted to attend to ensure a respectful and diverse audience. It grew into a paid event with a cap of 2,000 people so as not to disturb the community's residents, to lessen the festival's environmental impact on the area's fragile surroundings, and to allow the performers to give a relaxed, personal performance.
When we interviewed festival curator Zach Tetreault last year, he mentioned that it upset him that the festival scene heavily revolves around white men, so he would search for a rare and memorable act that couldn't be found at Coachella or Lollapalooza. But he saw FORM as more of a destination event than an Arizonan one, which is why there was little focus on booking acts with a wider appeal than a local one.
“It is something that is bigger than the sum of its parts,” Tetreault said. “What it stands for is much greater. I don’t necessarily have a quota of Arizona acts that I am trying to book. Historically, people come to FORM from all over. It’s not even a majority of Arizonans.”
Phoenix New Times has reached out to organizers for news on FORM's future. Please watch this space as details become available.
Update: Thursday, February 13:
Phoenix New Times contacted Timothy Bell, Arcosanti's Director of Community Engagement, about the Facebook post that came out on Friday, February 7.
He explained FORM's organizers came to Arcosanti with a "proposal for a different type of event" that "had a more political flair to it" than in previous years. He said it would've been difficult to pull it off in the little time they had and the theme could have threatened their 501(c) non-profit organization status.
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Additionally, the community is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year, and Bell explained that they are doubling down on their educational efforts.
Bell couldn't get into specifics of what organizers had proposed, but he was clear that the festival was welcome to come back in 2021. He encourages music fans to visit Arcosanti during their anniversary celebration.
He says, "It's not by any means the end of FORM (in Arcosanti)."
We continue to reach out to FORM's organizer's about the festival's future.