In addition to tackling the musical arena, Pitchfork has recently announced their new political platform for their annual music festival, the Voter Engagement and Mobilization project in conjunction with the Illinois non-profit organization, the Public Action Foundation. The Public Action Foundation is the public research and education arm of the non-partisan and non-profit political organization, Citizen Action/Illinois. The platform is designed to increase voter registration and voting education in Chicago and aims to increase political awareness and participation among younger Chicagoans and the underrepresented residents. The project’s aim is to register as many new voters as possible for the complete duration of the festival, from July 15 until July 1, as it comes right on time for the upcoming presidential election. There will be voter registration booths throughout the park and all volunteers will receive free admission.
Spearheaded by Pitchfork Festival founder Mike Reed and William McNary, the co-director of Citizen Action/Illinois and the Public Action Foundation, their partnership goes back since the earliest inception of the festival. According to McNary, while the Pitchfork and Interchange concert series rose to prominence in its early days, Reed partnered with Citizen Action a year later and McNary and decided to give a percentage to the proceeds for voter registration. Fast forward to the present, Reed reached out and decided to partner with the local organization once again.
“Fast forward 11, 12 years later from Pitchfork, it’s now coming back full circle. He said, ‘You are the guys I started with. I want to re-engage you guys, are you all still doing it?’” McNary recalls. “He wanted to make sure we were registering what we call the ‘underrepresented populations in government.’ We believe we can represent the underrepresented population.”
That particular demographic consists of African-Americans, Latino and Hispanic-Americans, unmarried women and millennials. “They’ve written millennials off. We cannot afford to write them off, we will not write them off. We believe that if properly engaged and if properly given a reason to vote, they will not only vote, but they will change the direction of the country in the time to come.”
“Charitable partnerships like this are one way we show our commitment to our community here in Chicago, to help our audience raise awareness and action,” says Pitchfork President Chris Kaskie via email. “With this being an election year that the world is following closely and feeling strongly about, we wanted to find a way to get people involved. Through this program, not only will our readers and festival goers have new tools for engagement, but we can give an extra boost to folks doing good work on the ground here in Chicago.”
McNary stresses the importance of consistent voter outreach in this year’s election. “Voter registration, that’s your entryway into the political process and voter education, giving young people a reason to come out and vote, and finally just because you are registered to vote and just because you have a reason to vote doesn’t mean that you will come out and vote,” he says. “Reminding people to vote, those are the three keys to make sure we have a good turnout, starting at the Pitchfork Festival where we will be registering young people to vote. Come and stay for the music, but while you’re at it, pick up your voter registration card.”
The annual Pitchfork Music Festival will be held in Chicago at Grant Park from Friday, July 15 until Sunday, July 17. The lineup will include performances from Anderson .Paak, Jeremih, FKA Twigs, Mick Jenkins, and many more.