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Mar 01

AUTHOR: Jasmine Bejar
CATEGORY: Stories of Impact

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Art & You: February 20, 2016

February 20, 2016. It was gorgeous outside, very unlike February: sunshine and 60 degree weather. Nontheless, it was still a Saturday in February in Fort Wayne, Indiana. There are those who would argue that there’s nothing happening here in the winter… But then, Saturday, February 20, 2016 happened as a testament to heed the nay-sayers  and make an argument for the flourishing community activity year-round in our community.

So, what happened on this day? Here’s the truth: it was just another Saturday in Fort Wayne. It was a day bustling with activity, especially in the heart of downtown.

Over 5,000 people participated in various arts and culture activities that ranged from classical music appreciation to the inaugural Weather the Fort festival event.

Photo Credit: Weather the Fort

Photo Credit: Weather the Fort

Weather the Fort‘s purpose embodies the message of this blog in its purpose: to celebrate the winter season with music, food and art, and it was funded through a grant provided by the Downtown Improvement District  to encourage more activities during the winter season. Although it was funny on the February Saturday, that wasn’t the original expectation, and the Weather the Fort festival committee still had high expectations for turnout. This winter festival provided an arts-centric opportunity for those who may not normally go out in winter time to participate in an arts and culture events (and it even forced them to embrace the idea of loving the cold, too). Their efforts were rewarded with a 2,000+ attendance and an excitement to make next year’s festival even better.

Photo Credit: Fort Wayne Philharmonic

Photo Credit: Fort Wayne Philharmonic

The Fort Wayne Philharmonic hosted a Masterworks concert on the 20th and saw record attendance with more than 2,000 people. “We were thrilled with the attendance at the recent George Gershwin performance on The Phil’s Masterworks Series,” said James W. Palermo, Managing Director. “It was one of our largest audiences in more than 10 years, with over 2,000 people enjoying some of the iconic American composer’s greatest works, including music from Porgy and Bess, An American in Paris, the Cuban Overture, and Rhapsody in Blue, featuring Fort Wayne favorite, pianist Jodie De Salvo. This community turns out in full force for quality arts and entertainment options and the variety, scope, and quality of the offerings here are just amazing.”

“This community turns out in full force for quality arts and entertainment options, and the variety, scope, and quality of the offerings here are just amazing.” – Jim Palermo, Managing Director, Fort Wayne Philharmonic

Everything in between was well attended, too—the Civic Theatre had 477 people in attendance at the production of Young Frankenstein. Jennifer Fort Art had 80 people attend workshops. 107 people took in a film at the Cinema Center. Artlink saw 50 people come through the gallery. 110 people participated in classes at the Fort Wayne Ballet—and this is just the tip of the iceberg.

Metavari (Photo Credit: Any Pauquette)

Metavari (Photo Credit: Any Pauquette)

Not to mention the long-anticipated return after ten years of The Legendary Train Hoppers with a special release show at the Phoenix featuring Metavari. This show sold out at 225 tickets, and they were forced to turn away at least 25 people at the door.

And all of this activity doesn’t just impact the artists and arts organizations. Food is also intertwined in our culture, and our restaurants felt the activity just as well. The Hoppy Gnome had a customer count of 700 people on this Saturday. One of the newest gems to our culinary scene, Tolon, served 122 hungry customers for dinner. 816 Pint & Slice served 120 more orders than the weekend before, and 130 more orders than this same day last year. Not to mention the other staples of downtown food like JK O’Donnell’s, Dash-In, Bravas, etc., who we anticipate also had very successful days.

The Legendary Train Hoppers (Photo Credit: Any Pauquette)

The Legendary Train Hoppers (Photo Credit: Any Pauquette)

Back to the truth—days like this happen more often than anyone realizes. It’s easy to say “There’s nothing to do this weekend” when in fact, there are endless options for endless interests. Take in a night of music, classical or rock. Go to a show, funny or serious. Participate in a class, art or dance or theatre. Peruse a gallery (you’re likely to find something you like at Artlink, Fort Wayne Museum of Art, Orchard Gallery, University of Saint Francis, Wunderkammer, Caste Gallery of Fine Art, Jennifer Ford Art… we could go on forever). There’s so much going on; all you have to do is look.

Want first-hand access to arts and culture events in Fort Wayne? Utilize our Events Calendar, or you can have this list delivered to your inbox every week by signing up for the Arts & Culture Forecast.