It’s official. Arts Crush, the annual month-long festival of exciting and innovative arts events, has begun. In its third year, the festival offers over 150 activities representing all disciplines of the arts (music, visual art, literature, dance and theater) at dozens of venues around Puget Sound.
More than 130 arts groups are represented including Book-It-Theatre, Seattle Storytellers’ Guild, Splinter Dance Company, Seattle Pro Musica, UMO, Global Heat, Brownbox Theatre, Pacific Play Company, Theatre Puget Sound, The Mahogany Project, Frye Art Museum, Seattle Girls’ Choir, Ottoman Belly Dance, Words of Welcoming Salmon Homecoming Project, Taproot Theatre Company and many more.
They will be producing once-in-a-lifetime, never-to-be-repeated events that are outside of the standard gallery shows, theatre performances and dance recitals.
“We chose these activities based on specific criteria,” says Sam Read, Arts Crush director and deputy director of Theatre Puget Sound, the producing organization for the festival.
“They had to involve a collaborative effort between two or more entities, engage the community in a unique manner and, of course, be highly innovative and unique.”
The festival will offer a series of free feature events, pay-what-you-can performances, two-for-one date night ticketed shows and a number of free, ticketed activities that will be available via a ticket lottery. There’s even a special Kid Crush, with dozens of youth/family-oriented programs featuring hands-on workshops, demos, participatory performances and original productions.
“We have something for everyone,” adds Read, “hundreds of creative arts adventures that have been developed with the aim of reawakening the senses.”
Arts Crush evolved from Live Theater Week, an event geared toward celebrating Seattle-area drama.
“It was very successful,” comments Read, “but we began to get all sorts of arts organizations that wanted to participate. After five years, we ended Live Theater Week and launched Arts Crush with the intent to increase awareness and public involvement with the incredible arts scene we have in this region.”
Last year, over 12,000 enthusiastic “Arts Crushers” participated in the festival, up from 10,000 the first year.
The response, according to Read, was overwhelmingly positive.
“People eat it up,” he says. “They relish the experience of doing something different, like watching a play being performed in a hotel bedroom, for example, or seeing acrobats in the windows of a downtown business.”
He adds, “I think it’s more about the out-of-the-box experience than the actual content of the performance that gets them excited.”
Other interesting locales for the events include the kitchen of the Rainier Valley Cultural Center, Third Place Books, the streets of Seattle’s International District, Northwest African American Museum, Epiphany Parish, Des Moines Library and Freeway Park. Venues from Bellingham to Olympia are involved, allowing people all over the region to participate.
“This is an all-encompassing festival,” remarks Read, “and as it grows, the arts community is getting hooked on connecting with the public in new and different ways. Organizations are seeing the need to get in touch with our communities, as they are beginning to see the audience, not as passive viewers, but more as active collaborators. I think in the long term this will have an impact on audience engagement and hopefully ticket sales.”
Arts Crush runs through the month of October. For more information: www.artscrush.org.