Fusion – A Festival of the Arts

This coming Saturday, April 10 marks the sixth year for Fusion: A Festival of the Arts.  Benefiting the Minnie Pearl Cancer Foundation, Fusion is the largest young adult cancer awareness event in the country.  This year's event will once again be held at the Cannery Ballroom (and Mercy Lounge) and will feature more than 150 local artists encompassing music, art, film and fashion. 
Mizzie and I are excited to be a sponsor this year, as one of the new additions to the event is a fashion boutique where you will have the opportunity to buy garments showcased on the runway as well as from local jewelry artisans, vintage dealers and boutiques.  A few Stella faves will be there like Closet Case Vintage, Studio 615, Gin-O Boutique, Nest Interiors and Southern Skirts.  Come prepared to shop!!

We had the opportunity to learn more about the event from co-founders, Heather Karls and Brenda Davenport.  This is a picture of Heather and Brenda at last year's Fusion which was celebrating it's fifth birthday.

How has the evolution of Fusion affected you and your expectation of the event?
Heather Karls:  When Fusion started, I never imagined it growing to be as big as it is.  In some ways the event has taken on a life of its own and I love that.  Honestly there are things about doing this event that have changed my life permanently. When we started, the goal was to do a one-time fundraiser for a local cancer foundation and now it's grown to not only be a platform for emerging artists in design, art & film, but also to be a vehicle to spread the message of young adult cancer awareness. 

Brenda Davenport:  I was living in Colorado taking care of my mom who was in treatments for breast cancer and got a call from Heather one January afternoon with "a great idea".  I packed my bags and moved back to Nashville.  So Fusion has literally moved me.  From that first year in the penthouse of an office building to now spanning two of Nashville's premier venues, Fusion has really taken on a life of its own.  I don't think Heather or I ever anticipated it to be what it has become.  It's so exciting to see it expand its reach to more and more of Nashville's young adults.  We always hoped it would raise awareness in the Nashville community of Young Adult Cancer, so it's truly fulfilling that it does. 

What has been a stand out moment from past Fusion events? 
HK:  I always think that the most meaningful part is getting to hear from cancer survivors my own age about their experience and the thoughts that were running through their mind as they went through the treatment process.  Cancer Survivors are some strong people and it's beautiful to get to see their hearts and get the message out. 

BD:  There are such a multitude of great Fusion moments.  But ironically, some of the greatest moments for me have not even been AT the event.  When I'm out talking about the event to local businesses or promoting it to people I run in to, I get to hear some amazing stories about people's journey through cancer.   At the circus-themed I'm Still Beautiful this past year, Heather and I had a Fusion promo booth in which we were playing gypsy fortune-tellers and handing out fortunes.  We had numerous people come up and pull out silly fortunes all night, but towards the end of the evening a young woman came up who was in treatments that pulled out "You will live a long and beautiful life".  The celebration that ensued was truly memorable and brings tears to my eyes even now as I type this.  Another event-memorable time was talking to a young woman that had come to Fusion 2007 that was currently going through treatments.  It was the first time she had been "out" in months and was so grateful for a chance to be feeling like a "normal, healthy, and young person again."

Has Fusion always benefited the Minnie Pearl Cancer Foundation?  How did that partnership begin?  
HK & BD:  Yes, we approached them in 2005 and it just grew from there. 
How do you feel about Fusion being the largest Young Adult Cancer Awareness Event in the country? 
HK:  I really hope that Young Adult Cancer Awareness spreads to the point that all young adults are aware that they're not immune and are taking responsibility for their own bodies. 

BD:  Awed, humbled, nervous.  If you ask Heather or myself, or any of our Executive Board, we will all tell you that at the core Fusion has had only one goal from it's very inception.  If even one young adult becomes aware that cancer is not a respecter of age and begins to take care of their body by getting their annual checkups & changing to a preventative lifestyle, then Fusion has all been worth it and we've done what we set out to do.  Our size just increases that audience.

What new things can people expect this year? 
HK:  The Fashion Boutique is new this year.  Not only will you see designs on the runway, but this year you can actually purchase one of a kind garments directly from the designer.  It's an opportunity to not only get something totally unique, but also to support local art and talent.

BD:  More space!  Last year was a sold-out event and was so packed.  Our expansion this year has allowed for a more comfortable evening but still holds all the thrill that people expect of Fusion. We're also quite excited about the addition of a Fashion Boutique that will allow people to actually purchase items they've just seen on the runway.

In 10 words or less, what would you say to someone to convince them to come to Fusion 10?
HK & BD:  FASHION. MUSIC. ART. FILM. benefiting the Minnie Pearl Cancer Foundation. 
What are your five favorite places in Nashville?
HK:  UAL. Venus & Mars. Sytar. Tenno. Posh.

BD:  If we're talking fashion, wherever Heather tells me to go, I'm not very fashion-saavy.  :)  In general, Fat Straw, TPAC, Bookman/Bookwoman, The Perch, Whole Foods. 
Here are a few fashion and art photos from last year's Fusion.

Tickets are available for purchase in advance at www.nashville fusion.com.  General tickets are $15 and VIP tickets are $50.  Tickets will also be available at the Cannery the day of the event for $20.  Festivities begin at 7pm.  See you there!