Sarah Sexton aspires to bring a festival like Austin’s South by Southwest to Oakland.
She’s Big on Indie Oakland
Who: Event promoter Sarah Sexton, 27, of Oaktown Indie Mayhem.
What: She is the sole proprietor of OIM, a local PR company that book shows and events all over Oakland, connecting venues with musicians and musicians with venues and city spaces.
When: Sexton spent her formative years between Alabama and Florida, flocking to Seattle as soon as she could, developing her independent go-getter persona.
Where: After following a guy (in a relationship that didn’t last) to Oakland, she orchestrated community events, pairing chefs, artists, and musicians with underground warehouse spaces. Then came film festivals, business courses at the Women’s Initiative, and hooking up musicians with shows at Actual Cafe, Awaken Cafe, The Night Light, and The New Parish.
Why: “There’s a lot of Oakland pride right now,” said Sexton, wearing a cap over her short blonde hair and sporting Americana tattoos on her neck and hands. She sees Oakland as a city ripe with potential, a place where artists can—and will—make a living wage. One of her goals is to teach emerging artists the basics of self-promotion so they, too, can, as she does, make a living doing what they love.
How: She is plotting, with Awaken, a new version of the Oaktown Music Festival called Mayhem, a juried competition and music festival for Oakland-based bands. Nominations open Sept. 1. “I love Oakland,” she said, over coffee at Blue Bottle Coffee in the W.C. Morse building, delighted that the building’s transformation to hip space is a lot like Oakland’s meteoric rise on the arts scene.