Listen to an internationally-known gospel choir. Catch a movie on the big screen at the Fox Theatre. Stroll through a gallery and view artwork. Catch folk musicians and singer/songwriters at a "mini Winfield" music festival.
The events are lining up for Harvey County's first ever "Spring Into the Arts" Festival, a month-long celebration of the arts made possible by a $45,000 grant from the Kansas Creative Arts Industries Commission.
"The mission of the festival is to connect the community to the incredible creative opportunities that we have in Harvey County," said festival coordinator Megan Upton-Tyner. "We have world famous groups performing locally and local groups made up entirely of community members. With so much to offer, anyone in Harvey County has the chance to participate."
"We're covering all kinds of arts," said Matthew Schloneger, who has served as the Newton Area Arts Council president. "We really are including all the arts organizations in town. Everyone has been excited about this project."
The festival kicks off March 28 with a presentation of "Faith County" by the Newton Community Theatre at 7:30 p.m. at the Fox (there also will be a show March 29) and the Grammy-winning Soweto Gospel Choir at 7:30 p.m. at Bethel College Memorial Hall. It wraps up April 27 with the Newton Community Children's Choir "Sounds of Spring" concert at 4 p.m. at First Mennonite Church.
Other highlights of the festival include the Newton Mid-Kansas Symphony Orchestra spring "Pops a-Plenty" concert at 4 p.m. March 30 at Bethel College Memorial Hall; Carriage Factory Art Gallery's "Muzart on Sixth Street" from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. April 12; and Dyck Arboretum of the Plains' "Prairiestock" local music festival from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. April 26.
"We've been doing a lot of work coordinating and putting things together," Schloneger said. "... We're very excited to see all this hard work coming to fruition."
Schloneger and Tyner said one of the goals for the festival is to help people from within the community and outside the community start viewing Newton as a destination for the arts. The festival also includes a branding project for the arts in Newton, creating a logo and specific "look" for marketing materials. A new website — created by Flint Hills Design in North Newton — can be accessed at www.newtonarts.org, which will continue to be available after the festival is over.
"People can start to recognize Newton as a place to be for the arts," Schloneger said.
As a prelude to the festival, during the regular 6 to 8 p.m. "Third Thursday" events March 20, art will be displayed in most downtown business windows and there also will be a pop-up gallery featuring art from Newton students.
Although the Kansas Creative Arts Industries Commission funding was a one-time grant, Schloneger hopes to find other sources of funding to continue the festival in future.
"We hope this is the first of many," he said.
Different levels of sponsorships still are available for different events. Volunteers also are needed to help with the festival.
To see all the events or purchase tickets, visit www.newtonarts.org. Some events are free and some will have a charge. Postcards about the festival will be mailed to every Harvey County resident.
"I'm constantly surprised by the local talent that we have, as well the amazing groups that are brought in by arts organizations," Tyner said. "My hope is that the community will be inspired and find new ways to connect to the arts."