Arlette Hovinga: International Music Education Exchange Program

Why life is crazy and dreams you didn’t know you had can come true

I’ve always been a traveler. I learned to ski in Austria, Poland and Switzerland, rode my first pony in France when I was 5 years old. Later, my mum took me to Jordan, Costa Rica, India, Egypt, Cabo Verde, the US, and almost every European country, to surf, scuba dive, or just look around.

Apart from a traveler, I’ve also always been in music. On stage for the first time when I was 8, in my first band by 12 or 13, and being festival crew since I was 16, I’ve never been far from the stage. The festival I worked hardest for to realize was called “Imagine”, a concept that we booked on several locations throughout the city of The Hague for three years.

But, cuts on culture funding killed what we built up over the years, and I was, and am, determined to look for something else. I found a very similar grassroots concept in BristerFest, a festival in Memphis. I wrote them a letter and Jack Simon, founder of Brister Street Productions (thus BristerFest), got back to me. We met when he studied in Harlem, the Netherlands, for a few months in November 2012.

Traveling through the US (New York – Memphis – Atlanta – Nashville – Memphis – Chicago – Memphis) taking in all those impressions, I realized what I really want to do is take all those talented musicians I’d worked with at Bristerfest, and that I’d seen along the way in other cities, home. Sharing is caring, as I’d like to say.

I spoke to Jack about this and the next thing I know, I’m 21 years old, on the other side of the world, and I’m in a business meeting. I came up with my name, Muddy Bricks Productions & Programs, and we came up with our concept: an educational music program for artists that want to tour the world. We offer workshops, seminars, three gigs in a 10 day trip, networking tools, and much more. We want musicians from around the world to enhance their skills together and to get in touch, to learn from each other much like travelers do when they ask locals how to cook that special meal.

This is what I’m proud of: International Music Education Exchange Program, IMEEP. We intend to cross borders with you and we believe that the way I first came into Memphis, ate my first epic pulled pork BBQ and enjoyed some Southern hospitality, can mean something to artists world wide if they take this ride with us.

I came to the US with a couple clothes and a guitar on my back, hoping to play shows and work a festival that was similar to what I had back home. I came back with a company -Muddy Bricks- and a partnership between MB and Brister Street Productions – IMEEP. I built dreams I didn’t know I had, and now, I’d want to do the same for other people.

I just turned 22 this June 10, but I could never have imagined my 3.5 weeks away would change the rest of my life. I got on a plane by myself, though not for the first time, and went half the world away to do what I love most- to be in event production. I never thought this would happen, but I couldn’t think of anything I’d want to do with my life but to internationally brighten the musical horizon by bringing music scenes closer together. After a month or two now, there’s already talks of IMEEP UK. Taking the chance to travel has changed my life this time more than ever, and I love every second of it.

This was a guest post from Arlette Hovinga, travel blogger and creator of IMEEP.