XFest MA

Press Statement

Since 2009 XFest has aspired to create a safe and supportive haven for experimental artists to express themselves and connect to a nurturing community. We never dreamed that we’d be writing something like this, and we’re sharing it with great heartbreak.

Stephanie Lak was a volunteer for XFest and a known artist in the local experimental music scene. At no point did XFest formally employ Stephanie, and in recent years her participation in our programming had waned as her personal difficulties grew. Steph’s arrest has shocked and rattled us deeply. Not only the organizers of XFest, but our entire extended community has gone through waves of emotion and reaction over the past month. For some, old wounds of trauma have been uncovered. Many of us are looking back on our connections to Steph – asking ourselves what we could have done, how we could have intervened to prevent this. Conversations about how and whether to move forward, how to help with the healing and how to adequately support those who have been affected aren’t easy or straightforward. 

We want to continue to provide an inclusive and safe space through our programming, but we’re taking some time to regroup. We also want to make space for ongoing dialogue and collective processing, as needed. To our surrounding friends and family, we are asking you to engage with each other gently. We are aware that tensions and conflicts have run high, and for understandable reasons. Please remember that there is no perfect response and no perfect way to process and grieve. We are a community of people from diverse and often difficult backgrounds, our collective strength comes from compassion and mutual support.

Please consider donating to Children’s Trust: https://childrenstrustma.org/stepup 

Our hearts are with all of our loved ones — XFest Organizing Committee


XFest is a labor of community, without outside funding. Interested in hosting a traveling performer, helping out at the event, or donating funds or food at future events? Contact us at xfest @ gmail . com. Want to perform? join our mailing list for application announcements and future XFest events.


“Improvisation can give us the skills to deal with many social and aesthetic issues of the twenty-first century. Although we have become adept at talking about aesthetic hybridity, cultural alerity, crossing borders (both earthly and cyber), and global fusion, few of us have really studied what physical and intellectual practice will make our bodies and minds ready for this brave new world … Improvisation can lead us out of our habitual responses by opening up alternative experiences — new physical sensations and appetites … Although this practice begins with attentiveness to corporeal experience it also develops a mental flexibility that can provide an intellectual map with which to chart new pathways for negotiating awkward and difficult crossings.”

~ ANN COOPER ALBRIGHT, TAKEN BY SURPRISE