While Wingfield Park and Hawkins Amphitheater won’t host large performances for this year’s Artown, the event plans to bring art to the Biggest Little City through virtual shows, small events, and a city-wide invitation to make art through “Heartown.”

The Artown 2020 poster was created by artist Ivette Valenzuela.

“The vitality of live art will not be lost, and the magic of Artown will continue,” said executive director Beth Macmillan. “People will interact, though differently, and the arts will heal our community throughout July.”

Every July for the past 25 years, Artown, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit agency, has created a city-wide celebration of the arts with mostly free concerts, gallery displays, pop-up performances, theater productions, and crafts. When faced with the impact that the COVID-19 pandemic would have on the event in its silver anniversary, Macmillan said she and the organization needed to reimagine the event.

“As we entered the festival season, I was filled with disappointment, which has transitioned to tremendous excitement,” she said. “Raquel Monserrat, Artown Festival Manager, cautioned me that I would never be able to re-create the festival until I put aside the one I had prepared. That weekend, while on a hike, I imagined that Artown as we know it did not exist, and I was charged to create a festival for the first time, during a pandemic.”

A reimagined Artown

This year’s event, which runs from July 1-30, will feature 300 events planned by 127 artists, including webinars, live streams, virtual tours, and scaled-back gatherings to comply with state regulations.

“I am very excited to share with you this transition that I have seen from our partners who have made the pivot,” Macmillan said. “Artists have found new stages in the mountains, dance rehearsal studios are in parking lots, and drive-in movies replace movies in the park. There will be live performances in intimate spaces, art events in people’s gardens, as well as virtual performances and exhibits.”

For a full list of Artown events, visit artown.org.

The festival’s traditional opening night extravaganza on July 1 will be broadcasted through Nevada Sports Net and Artown’s social media channels. This two-hour virtual spectacle of sight, sound, song, and dance, will feature personal messages and performances from Keb’ Mo’, March 4 Marching Band, Sheléa, Tim Snider, Vertigo Dance Company, Playing For Change, Jake Shimabukuro, Buffy Sainte-Marie, Hot Sardines, Kronos Quartet, Charlie Musselwhite, AJ Croce, Landau Eugene Murphy Jr., Time for Three, Cool Nasty, Pamyua, Na Lei Hulu, Ensemble Mik Nawooj, Davina and the Vagabonds, LADAMA, Mariachi Acero de Las Vegas, Paa Kow, and Resistance Revival Chorus.

Become a part of Heartown

As part of the reimagined festival, organizers inviting community members to make their own art at home and share it as part of the “Heartown” campaign.

“Heartown is a celebration of the essential role art plays in our hearts, in our lives, and in our communities,” Macmillan said. “We’re asking everyone to show us your heart through your art.”

Anyone can participate in Heartown by creating expressions and symbols of love with whatever supplies they already have, she added.

“Any expression of art that comes from your heart is welcome,” Macmillan said. “Now, more than ever, the power of art can inspire and uplift us.”

Individuals are encouraged to share their art with Artown either via its website or social media channels.

To enable participation in the campaign, Artown is working to distribute art supplies to community organizations, underserved communities, children’s programs, and nonprofits. The organization additionally is raising funds for local and regional presenters who no longer can present their work in the previous form and now must repurpose their work.

To learn more or support Artown, visit artown.org.

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