Oklahoma City’s rite of spring

Published: Wednesday, April 25, 2018 By: Cathy O'Connor Source: The Journal Record

It’s the end of April and you know what that means: It’s time for our city’s own particular “rite of spring” – the annual Festival of the Arts. The six-day event takes place downtown at Bicentennial Park and is a sensory feast of visual, performing and culinary arts.

There are the mainstays that we all look forward to each year: artwork by some of the nation’s finest artists, stages packed with a variety of performances, and the food. Whether it is Strawberries Newport, sushi rolls or something in between, there is something for everyone among the 31 food vendors. The festival also brings in new art experiences, such as Sculpture Park, which showcases sculptures using a wide range of materials.

The event is a source of pride and economic impact for Oklahoma City. It is considered one of the largest and most successful festivals in the country, bringing nearly 750,000 people downtown and adding $28 million to our economy.

The Festival of the Arts is also a source of pride for its long-term benefits to Oklahoma City. It provides interesting art experiences that are free or low-cost and accessible to all. The art opportunities for young children, such as the Children’s Art Field and Children’s Art Mart, inspire imagination and a love for creative expression. Studies show that art integration leads to better outcomes, both academically and as citizens.

The festival connects us to one another. It takes nearly 5,500 volunteers to help operate the six-day festival. That is a lot of human resources, meetings, conversations and pulling together. I have met many people through volunteering on a committee, or working on shift at the festival, that I may not have met otherwise. People make plans to go to the festival together, meet friends, have a fun business meeting, go on a date or make it a family outing. These activities are centered around the experience of the festival.

One of the art stations at the event aptly shows this connectedness. Creation Station is a collaborative public piece where visitors add to a giant sculpture that grows and changes into its final form at the end of the week, which is a good representation of how art connects community. I hope you have an opportunity to visit the festival this year.

Cathy O’Connor is the president of the Alliance for Economic Development of Oklahoma City.

Read the story at JournalRecord.com

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