As the Lotus World Music and Arts Festival enters its 25th year, Geoffrey Bradley, IU alumnus and felony deputy prosecutor at Monroe County Prosecutor’s Office, enters his first year on the Lotus board of directors after over a decade of volunteer service.
The Lotus Festival is run by the Lotus Education and Arts Foundation, a nonprofit organization based in Bloomington, and attracts more than 12,000 people each fall, according to its website. Lotus Festival consists of four to five days of music and arts from around the globe and has had artists participate from over 120 countries.
“I’ve been volunteering roughly since 2004-ish, with some time out, but you know, at least over a decade working with it,” Bradley said. “It’s a great chance to hear international music, U.S. and international artists, that you probably wouldn’t even have come across.”
After repeatedly volunteering, Bradley made his way onto the board of directors. The foundation has a staff and a board that does general oversight and works with part-time and full-time staff, while also dealing with things such as reviewing financials and general guidance, Bradley said.
The music was what originally drew Bradley in, but the people and volunteering with them is what managed to keep him there. He said he enjoys working the artist shuttle, which allows him to pick up and talk to U.S. and international artists.
Bradley gets a standard, three-row style van and a walkie-talkie to shuttle around the artists. A majority of the job is picking people up at their hotels and bringing them to their venues.
“I like driving with the artists and I like the people I work with,” Bradley said. “I’ve done a couple of other jobs and I’ve liked all my jobs, but this is the one I always gravitate toward.”
Often, the artists are on the road for the better half of weeks of months, Bradley said, so they always have something interesting to say about their lives. They will sometimes ask him what he thinks of Bloomington or what he thinks of the festival.
“The artists always have different ranges of personalities, but they’re always entertaining and engaging to talk to, many of which never have been to Bloomington” Bradley said. “It’s kind of fun to be in the vehicle talking to them.”
Lotus offers volunteers of the Lotus Festival a ticket in exchange for their work. Bradley said because he volunteers for the festival, he hasn’t paid for a ticket to get in for over a decade. The foundation has a ticket-exchange problem, where volunteers get a ticket to the festival in exchange for their work.
There are many areas to volunteer when it comes to the Lotus Festival, Bradley said. Volunteers can sign up to work the venues, hospitality, door checker and more.
“There’s other different jobs that people can volunteer to kind of fit their skill-set,” Bradley said about Friday and Saturday night. “It’s heavily volunteer-driven on those two nights. There’s only so many folks on the full-time staff.”
The festival was established in 1994, which is the same year Bradley finished his time at IU. It’s one of the oldest world music festivals, and the only kind in this state, according to their website.
Starting Sept. 27 and lasting until Sept. 30, the four-day festival will inhabit Bloomington’s streets, filling anywhere from six to eight venues with music and dance.
“It is an amazing world music festival,” Bradley said. “It’s an opportunity to see a variety of artists from all over the world, and in the U.S.”