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Taste of the Arts 2011

Arts United’s Third annual downtown festival happens August 27

By Eddie Torres

Fort Wayne Reader


You might think that, with the “Big Move” to their new digs at 300 East Main (the Auer building) looming over several of their member groups, Arts United might have other things to worry about than their Taste of the Arts Festival, which for the past two years has brought some of Fort Wayne’s finest arts and food together for a huge — and free — party to cap off the end of summer.

But the 2011 edition of Taste of the Arts, held in downtown Fort Wayne around Main Street on Saturday, August 27 promises to be its biggest yet.

Six performance stages will feature over 40 performing groups, with everything from Burmese dance to salsa, brass and drums, and over 30 restaurant booths will offer a sampling of some of Fort Wayne’s finest cuisine.

There’s also the Art Marketplace, with a diverse group of artists and hands-on activities for all ages, including Artlink, who in addition to their featured exhibition, will also host an artwork "moving" sale.

Those of you missing the Downtown Improvement District’s events this past summer will be happy to hear that the always entertaining Buskerfest is now part of the Taste of the Arts, with its eclectic assortment of street performers like jugglers, circus entertainers, and vaudevilles acts performing in Freimann Square.

Arts United is a private, non-profit organization that helps fund and support various art organizations in Fort Wayne. They provide partial funding for 10 member groups — including the Fort Wayne Ballet, the Fort Wayne Philharmonic, and the Fort Wayne Museum of Art — and additional support for dozens of other associate and affiliate members.

Arts United calls the Taste of the Arts as a catalyst to fund new projects. This year, proceeds from food, beverage sales and goodwill donations will be used to expand a grant fund for schools for artist-in-residence programs or for field trips to local cultural institutions. If the festival raises enough funds, some of the proceeds will go toward other new grant programs and cultural district funding.

The Performances

Seven staged areas for performances are the showcase of the event.

About 40 arts and culture organizations set-up displays around Freimann Square offering hands-on activities and information about their different programs. Face painting, dance workshops, an instrument playground, and poetry readings are just a sampling of activities to try.

Busker Square – a new partnership with Arts United and the Downtown Improvement District (DID) brings the art of street performing into Freimann Square for the day. The DID is sponsoring a full-line up of scheduled acts as well as bringing buskers to demonstrate a variety of skills and talents around the festival grounds.

There will be tours to showcase the new Auer Center for Arts and Culture at 300 Main. An acoustic stage will be inside, and the Fort Wayne Ballet will have rehearsals throughout the day. The Music Variety stage will be located in the parking lot next to Auer.

The Food

Over 30 local restaurants selling samples from their menu. Beer and wine will be served and this year festival goers will be able to carry their beverages around the grounds, rather than being in a designated area. Tickets for food and beverages will be $1 each, with most items ranging from 1 to 4 tickets. Restaurants will be contributing half their proceeds to Arts United for arts education grants to area schools and cultural district projects.

The Marketplace

An Art Marketplace will feature 15 artists selling their high-quality works and the Museum of Art will be free all day with two new exhibits: We are the Ship, The Story of Negro League Baseball: Original Paintings by Kadir Nelson and Steven Sorman: Works from the Collection.

At the Hall Community Arts Center, Artlink will have its final exhibit in that gallery before their move to the Auer Center for Arts and Culture in September. The Fem-In-Us Exhibition features work in all media from over 30 different area artists. The exhibition is a partnership between Artlink and the Motherlode Group. Artlink will also host a moving sale during Taste of the Arts from noon to 9 p.m. This includes artwork not picked up by artists from past shows! Look for discounts on a variety of pieces.

The Extras

Cinema Center will run free movies during the festival at their Clay and Berry theatre.

Costumes will be on display inside the Arts United Center throughout the day.

The History Center is open for free during the festival. Stop by the History Center's booth near the Arts United Center before you go to the museum. Kids will get a special prize for telling us what you liked best about your visit after you've been there.


After the Taste there is more to do downtown! This year, DESSERT begins as the Taste ends featuring four of Fort Wayne's most popular bands, including Dag and the Bulleit Boys; The Elky Summers; Jon Keller Band and Elephants in Mud. These groups have played across Fort Wayne and rocked venues ranging from The Brass Rail to The Tiger Room at CS3, from Early Birdz to Columbia Street West. DESSERT will be Keller's final Fort Wayne performance, before relocating to Nashville, TN, and will celebrate the release of his second album of original music, The Deceiver. (see Ben Larson’s story on page BLAH). Several food and dessert vendors will stay late for Dessert, Mad Anthony will serve beverages and the Bike Valet will remain open for bicyclists.

Getting There, Getting Around, Etc.

Fort Wayne Trails will have the bike valet in the lawn by the Arts United Center. Bicyclists can park their bike and trust it to be safely stored while perusing the activities during the festival. Bike Valet hours are 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m.

From 6:45 until 10:45, the Downtown Improvement District is sponsoring a free old-fashioned trolley to travel every 15 to 20 minutes between three downtown events running loop around the cultural district. The trolley will connect Dessert, the last Rock the Plaza for the summer, and a Tin Caps game ending with fireworks. The first and last stop for the trolley will be at the corner of Lafayette and Main Street.

The Mariott Courtyard is offering a special rate to festival patrons who want to stay and enjoy downtown night life.

Sponsors for Taste of the Arts make the event possible. Thanks go to Gold Sponsors: Downtown Improvement District, Emley Design Group, & Fort Wayne Metals; Silver Sponsors: Frontier Communications, PHP, Three Rivers Federal Credit Union; and Bronze Sponsors: Indiana Michigan Power, Lupke Rice Financial Services. Media sponsors: NIPR 89.1 fm, WAJI 95.1, Comcast and WANE-TV15, One Lucky Guitar and Jam Crib.

New for 2011 is a citizen level for donations to the Taste of the Arts festival and for the programs funded by the event. Friends of the Taste will be acknowledged at the event for any gift between $50 and $999. Friends of the Taste include: Carson Boxberger, Fort Financial Credit Union and Mark Michael. Donations to Arts United can be tax deductible and Friends of the Taste should be noted on the memo line.

Saturday, August 27, 2011 Noon-7:00pm
Dessert...party after the Taste until 10 pm
Arts United Center and Main Street, Downtown Fort Wayne

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