Art Attack – Changing of the bulb
Wednesday, April 30, 2014
It’s that time of year when the art and artists of Eureka Springs grab the spotlight for the whole month of May. The Eureka Springs May Festival of the Arts is an annual event now in its 26th year, an accomplishment this city should be proud of.
For the past two years the festival has taken on a real festival feel, thanks mostly to photographer and event promoter Jeremy Mason McGraw, who through his Creative Energy Project, produced and created professional, large-scale, public, interactive art events around town. Alas, Jeremy has moved on to greener pastures, tired of jumping through city hoops and having to beg for small amounts of funding. Jeremy has decided there is more opportunity in Bentonville where they are craving and actually paying for creative input.
The current board of the City Advertising and Promotion Commission has decided to strictly focus on advertising the city and get out of the promotion business altogether. They will throw big bucks at advertising the May Festival of the Arts, but will not give a penny to create or support new events in May. Even prize money handed out to Artrageous Parade winners had to come from private donors.
Last year’s public May Fest events – the Sphere in Basin Park, the MUGS posters and Ranaga Farbriaz’s sound sculpture garden on Main St. were highly successful, inter-active art projects that garnered public attention and a ton of valuable free press. MUGS alone was featured in four local publications, got local radio and television play, had the centerspread in “What’s Up” and a statewide feature from Cyd King in theDemocrat-Gazette.
Any marketing expert will tell you word of mouth is the best sales tool. Tourists who experienced those May Fest events will talk about Eureka Springs for years to come – how they decorated a twig for the Sphere, did graffiti on the poster of their favorite artist, or got caught up in a drumming frenzy in Basin Park. These are take home memories – similar to when Charlotte Buchanan ran the Lucky 13 Outdoor Theatre.
Wouldn’t it be more effective investing some of that CAPC cash into event creation by handing out a small portion of it to some of its local creative talent?
The private sector plays the important and vital role during any festival event, and this year is no exception with a full calendar of scheduled May events and exhibits. But we are a small town with limited corporate resources, and if you advertise a festival you better make sure it looks like one, because that word of mouth – carries.
Yes, the spotlight is on, but maybe it’s time for a changing of the bulb.
We have had a long history of ceramic and pottery talent in our town and on May 1, eight of those talents will be on display at The Space. Looks like an exciting show. Also May 1, Ken Addington, one of Eureka’s best, has his opening reception at the Cottage Inn. And ceramic artist Mark Rademacher will be featured at the new Eureka Fine Art Gallery on Main St.
Look to the Independent Fun Guide for a complete listing of May Festival events.
No doubt there will be confused people in Basin Park mid-afternoon this Saturday. Apparently the powers that be decided after 26 years to change the Artrageous Parade time from 2 to 6 p.m.