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May Festival of the Arts blends new with tried and true

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29 April, 2019 By Becca Martin-Brown

"We want them to picture color -- our colorful community of creative people who love to get people involved as participants in the arts, not just spectators," Sandy Royce Martin says of visitors to the Eureka Springs Festival of the Arts in May. "We want them to picture their faces hurting from the smiles and their hands messy with the interactivity of learning how to do street chalk art. We want them to picture themselves having dinner with one of our local artists, filmmakers, authors or playwrights, and then dancing to the point of exhaustion at one of our local clubs and pubs featuring local musicians. We want them to picture themselves as one of the locals!"

Martin is chairwoman of the Eureka Springs Arts Council, and her job is to get that message out.

"May Festival of the Arts is a tradition among locals, regionals and repeat visitors," she says. "Over the past several years, it has also become an international attraction for Eureka Springs. Even though Eureka has become a year-round destination, May Festival of the Arts has remained the official kick-off of the tourist season and the biggest month of the year."

The festival dates back to 1987, when "a group of local artists including Louis and Elsie Freund [wanted] to showcase Eureka Springs as the only authentic arts colony in Arkansas," Martin explains.

Today, the festival is co-produced and funded by the Eureka Springs Arts Council, the city of Eureka Springs and the Eureka Springs Advertising & Promotion Commission. But it takes a village to put it all together.

"The Arts Council puts out a call for artists, encouraging all artistic disciplines, including culinary, to submit new ideas for interactive art events, exhibits and out-of-the-box ideas," Martin explains. "The emphasis is always on interactivity and demonstrating the experience and public involvement in the Eureka Springs art scene. Applications are reviewed, scored and approved by the Arts Council, which includes the mayor, artists from several disciplines and representatives from the CAPC. Once the events are approved and funded, the calendaring process begins. The calendar of city-funded events gets published, and individual artists and businesses then fill in with their art events.

"We have about 75 percent new events -- thanks to the application process -- and 25 percent tried-and-true hits that have become tradition, such as the ArtRageous Parade, White Street Walk and Books in Bloom."

This year, Martin says, these are some of the events that most excite her.

  • "There's a twist to this year's ArtRageous Parade: The public is invited to costume up and join in," she says. "No costume? No problem. Come to Basin Spring Park between 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. May 4, and local artists will help you make a mask, paint your face and set you up to be in ArtRageous style to join the fun. The parade starts at 2 p.m. May 4. Then "take a whack at a giant pinata and dance to the beat of Papa Rap during the first Eureka Springs Cinco de Mayo Fest in Basin Park from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. May 5."
  • "Eureka Springs hits the big screen with a free showing of the feature-length movie 'Antiquities,'" she says. "The film stars Mary Steenburgen, Graham Gordy ('True Detective') and is set in the quaint and quirky town of Eureka Springs. Meet the producers, directors and actors after the screening at 7 p.m. May 15 in the historic City Auditorium.

"Also, 'Hollywood.con' is an offbeat adventure-comedy starring Tom Arnold and Mika Boorem ('Dawson's Creek' and 'Touched by an Angel') in the spirit of 'Raiders of the Lost Ark' meets 'Get Shorty.' The premiere will be May 4 starting at 7:30 p.m. in the City Auditorium. Hang around after for a Q&A with producers and stars Mika and Ben Boorem. For tickets, www.theaud.org."


FAQ

Eureka Springs

Festival of the Arts

WHEN — May 1-31
WHERE — All over Eureka Springs
COST — Varies by event; many events are free
INFO — eurekaspringsfestivalofthearts.org
BONUS — The White Street Walk is May 17; Books in Bloom is May 19; a cabaret with Opera in the Ozarks singers is at 5:30 p.m. May 26 at The Grand Tavern.


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