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Roanoke’s new Parks & Art program offers the opportunity for all to discover something new.
Monday, June 3, 2013
Parks & Arts, a program to bring art into Roanoke neighborhoods, will debut Saturday in Washington Park, kicking off a summer run that if successful may become a regular in the city’s summer schedule.
No shortage of festivals and performances exists in Roanoke, but nearly all are downtown, and some are rather pricey. The new program subsidizes an eclectic lineup of performing and visual artists, appearing throughout the summer in neighborhood parks, places that ordinarily would not host Opera Roanoke, for example. Parks & Arts seeks to expose more Roanokers to the arts and more artists to people who wouldn’t ordinarily seek them out.
Six of the seven events will take place in neighborhood parks. The Sept. 15 finale will mark the reopening of Elmwood Park.
Parks & Arts affords people living near the neighborhood parks the chance to hear and see new things, perhaps prompting them later on to seek out the artists and performers in their usual haunts. Roanoke Arts and Culture Coordinator Susan Jennings said researchers have found that if you go where people live and feel comfortable and expose them to new types of music and art, they are more likely to visit a museum or attend a symphony.
The idea for Parks & Arts is rooted in the Arts and Cultural Plan that when incorporated into Roanoke’s comprehensive plan in 2011 called for making art more accessible to people where they live and gather. Since, the arts have found a great friend in the city’s parks and recreation department.
Together with the Roanoke Symphony Orchestra and the now defunct Arts Council, the city won a $50,000 matching grant from the National Endowment for the Arts to bring performing and visual artists to neighborhood parks.
Though the grant underwrites the program just for a year, if it receives rave reviews, organizers should find willing sponsors.
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