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May 27, 2009

Vote ICT

Heather Bohrer

Music, barbeque, and voting—all part of June’s First Friday! Now in its third month, Wichita’s music crawl, presented by House of Schwan, KMUW, & Heffys BBQ Sauce, promises to be an event to remember as Wichitans start their summer. 22 venues will showcase 24 artists during the event that will take place on the evening of June 5. This free event seeks to draw residents and visitors of all ages to the heart of the Wichita metropolitan area to enjoy live, original music.

First Friday festivities will kick off at 6:00 p.m. at City Arts with a press conference announcing VOTE ICT, a non-partisan voter registration and activation drive. Seeing a need to get the younger generation and creative people more connected with their city, this initiative is being launched by ROK ICT with the goal of registering 2,000 new voters within a year and educating voters on the importance of voting in local elections. Volunteers will be on hand at First Friday venues with voter registration cards and information about the voting process. “Fostering a positive sense of pride about Wichita is one of the tenants of our mission statement,” said Jared Brickman, Owner and Executive Director of ROK ICT. “Voting is the number one way to take ownership of your community.”

ROK ICT Community Development Director Jason Dilts agrees. “If every person in this city under the age of 35 was registered and voted, we could quite literally rock Wichita! In the April 2009 municipal election, only 9% of registered voters cast a ballot. That’s 23,205 people who showed up out of 249,971 who could have. Within that small number, only 1,765 of those voters were under the age of 35!” Dilts believes that it’s time for young people to take accountability for their community’s future. “I see a lot of excitement and enthusiasm among people my age. They are enjoying their city and are happy about developments downtown. Wichita seems to be full of hope and possibility. The only way we can maximize this possibility, though, is by taking responsibility. Voting does just that,” Dilts implores.

After the press conference, Heffys BBQ Sauce will sponsor a free barbeque and concert in the Old Town Farm & Art Market. “Nothing brings people together like good food and music,” said Adam Hartke, Deputy Executive Director of ROK ICT. “This is going to be an important summer for Wichita, with our entertainment scene really taking off and people becoming very engaged and interested in what is happening downtown. We wanted to do something special to kick off what will likely be a defining season for our city.”

First Friday is a collaborative effort involving ROK ICT, Hartke Records, Naked City Magazine, and The Wichita Downtown Development Corporation. It offers a unique opportunity to support the burgeoning music scene in Wichita. Trolleys, provided by the WDDC, will shuttle participants between venues throughout the night. Fans, bands, venues, businesses and/or any others who are interested in becoming a part of First Friday or learning more about the times and locations of musical acts during the event can go to www.FirstFriday.org, or www.ROKICT.com.

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