“I have a crazy idea. Hear me out.”
I guess the whole thing really started while on vacation with my husband James. The main objective was to relax (obviously), go somewhere new, and soak up some culture. After listening to several bands, James and I stepped into an alleyway to find twinkling lights overhead, local artists and artisans, and live music. The ambiance was magical. We knew Wichita Falls had all the ingredients to make something like this happen: a beautiful downtown, an amazing pool of local talent, and an organization who could pull it off.
Cynthia Laney, Executive Director of DWFD, did hear me out. The organization was kind enough to give us seed money to make it happen. Art and Soul was the name we eventually landed on, and the event was added to the organization’s 2015 event schedule.
“Don’t expect to make any money in your first year,” Laney said. We strung lights across the street, hired bands to play, and had about 20 amazing artists participate. People came and we were all surprised to find we did make a profit. A small profit, but a profit just the same.
In three short years, the event has grown by leaps and bounds. In addition to showcasing makers and creators, this year we’re teaming up with a variety of organizations to really make this event shine. The Museum of Art at MSU will unveil a new mural on the Zales Building. The Alliance for Arts and Culture, a major sponsor this year, is providing incredible performing art. Big Sam’s Funky Nation, who’s played major festivals all over the country, will get the audience grooving. NAMI and the Helen Farabee Center will provide an air-conditioned exhibition to draw public awareness about mental health. That’s just the tip of this iceberg.
I find so much joy in chairing this festival. To begin, the Art and Soul committee is the hardest working group of individuals I’ve ever met. They give their time, energy and ideas. They truly believe in what we are doing. Plus, they tolerate me, kudos to them. Next, it’s incredible to see people supporting local artists. These are people putting their talent to work, and I have tremendous respect for that. To see people buying their work, showing their support and voicing their appreciation makes it all worthwhile. Finally, it is immensely gratifying to provide an event for the entire community knowing the money we raise goes back into making Downtown Wichita Falls more vibrant.
I guess the bottom line is this: if you have a crazy idea for Wichita Falls, if you discover something we don’t have……..find someone who can help you make it happen and ask them to hear you out.
Art & Soul Festival is Saturday, June 24th and admission is just $5. Kids 12 and under are free. Tons of art, music, and more!!