Troy Gagner outside of the Foundry

Lincoln Arts Festival Director Troy Gagner poses outside of The Foundry on Thursday, Sept. 12, 2019, in Lincoln, Nebraska.

Moving downtown gives this year’s Lincoln Arts Festival a larger footprint in its 19th year. The two-day event will be held Sept. 21 and Sept. 22, covering four blocks at its new location of downtown. Live performances will take place on Tower Square at 13th and P with interactive art activates being held on the square and at the Johnny Carson Center for Emerging Media Arts.

Activities for children and families will be located outside the Lincoln Children’s Museum and the Nebraska History Museum. With a small suggested donation of $1 for those 13 and older, attendees have access to a variety of artists, music, performers and interactive art activities.

Partnerships and Program Director of the Lincoln Arts Council, Troy Gagner, said the main focus of the festival is visual arts. The event will be showcasing 110 visual artists from 20 different states.

There will also be a variety of storytellers showcasing all forms of art including clay, glass, jewelry, leather, wood and more. Outside of the visual artists involved there is more space for all the new activities, since moving from Southpointe Pavilions to downtown Lincoln. Since the move, the festival has added a number of enjoyable, interactive art activities, so it’s not just about shopping for art like previously known for.

The Johnny Carson Center for Emerging Media Arts will be showing student films and interactive art activities. Doane University professor Eric Stearns and students will be demonstrating ceramic techniques and will offer people a chance to try their hand at a pottery wheel. Artist Devon Coulson will have an interactive photo booth. Artist Tom Meyer will be doing a crowd-sourced mega portrait that attendees can participate in and there will be many other activities for children and families to participate in.

Despite both events with Lincoln Calling and the Lincoln Arts Festival occurring downtown on the same weekend this year, both associations stress the lack of association between events.

Lincoln Arts Festival concentrates on visual arts rather than music like Lincoln Calling. With both popular events located downtown, the Lincoln Arts Council, Gagner suspects there is a high probability to generate more interest in Lincoln art.

“Downtown is really Lincoln’s gathering space for these sorts of events,” Gagner said. “With Lincoln Calling already located downtown and the great relationship we have with them, it made sense for us to locate adjacent to Lincoln Calling to try to build something greater than the sum of the two events individually.”

Musicians expected to be performing at Lincoln Arts Festival on Saturday include Northeast High Marching Band followed by Dancing Beyond Limits, Joshua James, Carter Van Pelt/Shodekeh and The Bishops. 

Sunday will start off with Karen Cultural Organization followed by Lazzi UNL Improv, Jing Mo Tang, Jarana, Nebraska Steel UNL Drum Ensemble, Lighting Bugs and Golden Studio.

Executive Director of the Lincoln Arts Council Deb Weber said, this festival is for bringing the community together through the power of art to Lincoln. “It’s a well-documented fact that the arts build community,” Weber said. “Lincoln is one of the top communities in the United States and the arts contribute to happiness, and well-being while also generating $99 million in the local economy each year. The Lincoln Arts Festival is accessible for all providing a time to be inspired and also dig into making art yourself.”

The event wants people in the Lincoln community to realize how vibrant the arts are in Lincoln through this event. The Lincoln Arts Council wants to give attention to the things that the arts do for the community and to showcase that those are right here in Lincoln. 

“The Lincoln Arts Council is excited to be hosting downtown this year, preparing for the festival for months now. With the event being so close to UNL’s campus there will be a much greater degree of involvement by the university,” said Gagner. “There is such a great art community at UNL that we want to tap into.”

For more information about the Lincoln Arts Festival see their Facebook Page