Text Me When You’re Home brings safe and inclusive music and arts festivals to Denver
As director of CU Boulder’s Program Council, a student-run music and entertainment organization, Amy Karp had planned many concerts, including the university’s annual Welcomefest, a free show that features nationwide acts for around 10,000 students.
“I’ve loved live music my whole life,” says Karp, who served on the program’s board during his four years at CU Boulder. “I’ve always found so much joy in these spaces.”
Karp was a regular on the music scene, attending shows every week with her friends. But she began to notice that many of her peers struggled with social inclusion.
“I realized that a lot of people, especially women and gay people, were excluded from the traditional concert experience because they didn’t feel welcome or comfortable in some of these spaces,” says Karp. “Also, at some of the larger-scale gigs, like a few Welcomefests that I helped plan, there were always a handful of reported sexual assault allegations of people being groped or inappropriately touched.”
Karp was frustrated and felt there was no safe space to accommodate those who want to enjoy a fun night out with live music. She also recalls that many local musicians who wanted to perform on campus events were unable to secure performances through the Program Board. The problems made Karp realize that she didn’t want to work for a mainstream promoter after college.
Instead, she decided, along with her friend and fellow CU Boulder student Ileana Rivera, who served as director of marketing for the Program Council, to co-found Text Me When You’re Home. The collective organizes pop-up music and arts events that are safe and open to everyone, regardless of race, color, gender, sexual orientation and gender identity.
“It was really important for Ileana and me to uplift and unite our community,” says Karp, who graduated last spring.
An apt name for their business, “Text me when you’re home” is a phrase Karp, Rivera and their friends would always say to each other as they left a party. “We wanted a name that speaks to taking care of each other and means that we all take care of each other,” Karp explains.
The mission of the organization is based on two principles: to plan events that are exciting, safe and inclusive for participants; and to support, promote and provide equitable opportunities for underrepresented musicians and artists in the community.
On July 17, 2021, TMWYH launched its first pop-up music and art festival in Karp’s backyard in Boulder. The free seven-hour event brought together around 250 attendees who enjoyed the sun, live music from indie DJs, rappers and actors, and visited or purchased items from various art vendors selling pottery, artwork, upcycled clothing and more.
A week before the event, to ensure inclusivity, the collective created a set of standards, or codes of conduct, which they posted on their social media. The first standard in the list states: “There is no place for racism, anti-Indigenousness, homophobia, transphobia, misogyny, ableism, bigophobia or any other form of hateful behavior and oppressive”.
Since the collective’s first event, he’s hosted several others, including the recent Text Me When You’re Home x Larimer Lounge Music and Art Fest in January, which Karp says was a big hit.
But one of the challenges of hosting events, she notes, is finding venues that will rent their space at a reasonable price.
The desire to create music and art festivals on a more regular basis led the collective to have its own showcase – a gallery/performance space called Universe at 1869 South Broadway in Denver.
Owned and operated by Text Me When You’re Home, Universe was founded on the principle of safety and inclusiveness for women, queer people and BIPOC individuals.
To commemorate its permanent location, Text Me When You’re Home is hosting a grand opening on Saturday, February 19 from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. at Universe, which will feature entertainment, live music, food, and community. Tickets are free for the event for all ages.
For newcomers who have never experienced a Text Me When You’re Home music and arts festival before, Karp says you can expect performances from a variety of local acts. eclectics including Mellowpunk (chill punk), Waiting Room (indie rock), Pink Lady Monster (indie pop), Jevion Ice (R&B), Puxle Theory (folk), Noel Sterling Jr. (singer-songwriter) and DJ LMNOP (experimental house). Live music will go from 1pm to 8pm
Plus, there will be plenty of local art vendors at the opening, including Savannah Hope (paintings, clay jewelry, bolo ties, earrings); Hott Pink Matter (upcycled clothing); Taylor Made (metal jewelry, clay, dehydrated fruit/dried flowers and resin), Killey Kat Mats (textiles and rugs), Vern’s Vinyls (floral collages on vinyl records), A to Z Ceramics, paintings by Kat Yeneza, Destruya (clothing and decoration) and B Side by Hannah Rome, original work painted by hand and printed directly on recycled vinyl records.
Rome, who is also the outreach coordinator for Universe, will sell her artwork by David Bowie, Jimi Hendrix, Kurt Cobain, Frank Ocean, Bruce Springsteen and Billie Eilish on Saturday.
There will also be a community painting on one of the walls, professional airbrush artists making custom merchandise, and a photo booth with a professional photographer.
Karp says Universe is now open Wednesday through Sunday and features art, jewelry, clothing from local vendors, live music, art, coffee and more. Plans are also underway for workshops and art classes, such as a course in comic and cartoon art, which Rome will teach.
“The exciting point in developing Text Me When You’re Home further is that we hope that by having a permanent storefront, people will get to know us better and recognize that we are a valuable resource to the community,” concludes Karp.
Inauguration of the Universe, 10 a.m. to 9 p.m., Saturday, February 19, 1869, South Broadway. Admission is free for the general public event. Register on Eventbrite to be eligible to win $150 worth of artwork from local artists.