Arts United serves up something special for those wishing to dig into Fort Wayne's cultural delights. In a new two-day format, Taste of the Arts has something for almost everyone, including runners, kids, and foodies.
According to Dan Ross, Vice President of Community Development for Arts United, "Taste of the Arts was created to celebrate the rich diversity of arts and cultural experiences in our vibrant community."
The festival hours are 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. on Friday, Aug. 26, and 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 27.
Friday night kicks off the event with WBOI 89.1's Meet the Music concert. Events and admission are free, and samples of local eateries can be purchased for $1 per ticket.
In addition to the arts activities on Saturday, this year's program includes a Beat Beethoven race - a four-mile run/walk that challenges participants to finish the course in the amount of time it takes for live musicians to play Beethoven's Fifth Symphony. Musicians will be situated along the race's course, which will begin at the Arts United campus at 300 Main St. and lead to the River Greenway, before ending at Freimann Square at the Arts United campus. Registration for the race ends on Thursday, August 25, and the cost is $30.
There is also a Little Beethoven one-mile run which begins at 9:30 a.m. on Friday, August 26. Participants must be registered by August 25, and the cost is free.
While the concept of Beat Beethoven races is not unique to Fort Wayne (they have been held through the United States for several years) its inclusion at Taste of the Arts proves how distinctive the experience of attending the festival can be. According to Ross, the idea to include the Beat Beethoven races was the brainchild of Carmen Tse, Taste of the Arts festival chair, and David Broerman, a local arts teacher, both avid runners. Tse and Broerman had noticed the races held elsewhere.
"Carmen and David felt that Fort Wayne should host our own Beat Beethoven race, and we are thrilled to bring the event into Taste of the Arts" Ross said.
As vice-president of community development, Ross manages Arts United's relationships with other organizations. He works to connect arts organizations with each other as well as with economic development groups, government agencies and businesses. For Ross, making Taste of the Arts a two-day festival seemed a natural evolution of the event.
"Taste of the Arts has included an evening program featuring Meet the Music with Julia Meek from WBOI for several years. This year we decided to move the event to Friday night to create a more distinct experience separate from the day-long festival," he explained.
Even though the Meet the Music feature might draw adult audiences to the festival, the activities for children help to make Taste of the Arts a family-friendly venture.
"Freimann Square will be filled with over 40 booths hosted by a range of organizations providing hands-on activities for kids to express their own artistic talents. Sweetwater Sound and the Philharmonic both provide hands-on music-making opportunities, and FAME, Youtheatre, the Fort Wayne Ballet and many other organizations offer unique experiences for kids," Ross states.
In addition, Taste of the Arts will include the FortArtisan Fine Art Fair.
"FortArtisan features artisan arts and crafts that are innovative, original items produced using traditional craft. [It] is a juried arts fair, so applicants are reviewed and selected by a panel," said.
"Dancers, musicians, and others are selected to create a broad range of activities and diverse types of arts and cultural experiences," he added.
Whether attendees are new to the area, or are Fort Wayne natives unaware of arts organizations and their programming, Taste of the Arts has a simple takeaway for everyone who attends: The arts are thriving in Fort Wayne.
As Ross states, "Fort Wayne is incredibly fortunate to offer an amazing array of arts and cultural experiences."