May 10, 2014. RIP.

It’s now two weeks since we had to postpone Write Sky for the second time. May 10 was never really likely, as the forecast was either rainy or cloudy all week. Still I feel the need for closure, and I think I may have to create it myself.

May 10 appeared abruptly. GEICO would be at Maguire Air Force base in New Jersey, and over Philadelphia on May 9 & 10. How were those dates? So much still needed to happen! The core group needed to be re-assembled, Friends of the Rail Park had to determine their message, the 3 messages then needed an order, and the world needed to know about it. For all this to happen, May 10 was exactly three weeks notice. It’s too serene to just re-tell it. Everyone was excited to have a date, and that energy propelled the whirlwind of decisions that needed to fall into place.

I drew up a save the date, and a press release, and emailed all the press people I knew. I designed a flyer for Asian Arts to print and hang 2000 copies. The extremely tricky negotiation became the contracts. When can we cancel food? How much do we owe the photographer if we cancel within 48 hours? 24 hours? How about the videographer? The pilots? Each contract was amended to weigh the best practices of each profession with the volatility of this project.

Friday morning May 9 would be my first check-in with the skytyper. At noon, we would both look at the May 10 forecast. If the forecast was good, we would check in the next day, Saturday at 10am. This would be when the pilots would need to decide if they would fuel up their planes to complete our skywriting job, or if they would keep their planes light for their Air Show. But we never needed to make the second call, because the Friday forecast was rain and clouds. It was off.

I had no time for disappointment yet. I called the photographer, the gallery, the videographer to let them know. I wrote an email to all the project partners, to inform them first. I told the press that they had a free Saturday morning. I then needed to let the public know. I realized the notice was coming from me as an artist – and not from an organization. I took advantage by whipping out the pen tool in Photoshop, and marking up a dumb “un-save” the date to announce the postponement. I saw that it was done, and I needed a break.

If I’m being dramatic in this recap, it’s for the sake of closure. This type of delay is an inherent risk of the project, so I’m not crushed. The more we face these cancellations, the more drama builds into the project: the better the release. That said, too many cancellations, and the closer we move to farce.

Next we keep talking to the skywriters, hoping they can swing by Philadelphia again. And then June, just a breath away now, is when I’ll find out about two grants, that may give us the ability to pick our own dates. So there’s hope! And wishful thinking. And a great cast. Let’s try this again soon, okay?

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