Boston should find a way to welcome Allston festival
Boston needs more events like Allston’s DIY Fest — but instead, the local music festival’s future is in jeopardy. The one-day event, held annually since 2009, has brought music fans to two small stages in Ringer Park. Last year, 27 bands played short sets in front of a few hundred people, while artists sold homemade crafts and volunteers pedaled stationary bicycles to power the stage. The acronym DIY stands for do-it-yourself, and the organizers have: On their own initiative, they created a festival that has grown organically into a summer tradition.
This year, however, the Boston Parks and Recreation Department denied organizers a permit, citing noise complaints from neighbors and repeated parking violations during previous festivals. The application also claimed only 100 people would attend the show, an unrealistic estimate based on past years. A spokeswoman for the Parks Department says an official offered to work with the permit applicant, Joan Pasquale, to find an alternative venue, but has not received any response; meanwhile, fans of the festival have started an online petition drive urging the Parks Department to reverse its decision on Ringer Park.
Arts enrich the city and foster community, and the Parks Department was right to offer to help DIY Fest. The festival plays an especially important role for Allston bands because the area suffers from a chronic lack of music venues. Though the neighborhood is full of students and musicians, bands face a constant challenge finding spots to perform. With too few venues, some performers opt for unsafe basement concerts instead — underground shows the police have sought to block. DIY Fest, which takes place outside, during daylight hours, has provided a safe and legal alternative.
The festival wouldn't happen until July, so both sides have plenty of time to reach a resolution. If the festival planners, who take pride in their lack of organizational structure, can put together a viable plan for using Ringer Park without violating the city's noise and parking regulations, the Parks Department should reconsider its denial; but organizers should also hear the city out if there are other parks in Allston that might make a better home for a growing event. Boston hosts hundreds of other festivals, parades, athletic events, and cultural performances in city parks every year. None of them are entirely silent, and all of them probably bother someone. But balancing the wishes of different city residents is just that — a balance. The Parks Department and DIY Fest should try to find it, so that a piece of homegrown culture can continue to thrive.