Summer of the Arts line up announced

BY ALLIE WRIGHT | MARCH 30, 2011 7:20 AM

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Iowa City’s Summer of the Arts is ready to grow.

Program officials announced this summer’s entertainment lineup Tuesday, which includes concerts, art festivals, and movies. This year, officials will expand their Downtown Saturday night schedule to put on concerts every week during the summer.

“Live entertainment has been a nice draw for downtown businesses,” said executive director Lisa Barnes.

The summer-long event will feature concerts from bands from Des Moines, Chicago, and the Quad Cities, as well as local groups. The main-stage musicians for the Arts Festival include The Freys, Dave Zollo, the Bottle Rockets, and Alejandro Escovedo.

“[The audience] will have the opportunity to hear from a wider variety of Johnson County bands,” Barnes said.

The festivities will begin with the Friday Night Concert Series on May 21, with the City High and West High Jazz Programs.

The Iowa Arts Festival will begin June 3 and will feature around 125 fine-arts stands and Culinary Row, a street filled with more than 15 food vendors.

Other events include the Iowa City Jazz Festival and Sand in the City, sponsored by Bank of the West, in August.

The Daily Iowan and M.C. Ginsberg will also present the Free Movie Series on the Pentacrest starting June 11.

Nick Arnold, executive director of the Downtown Association of Iowa City, said he thinks Summer of the Arts is important because it showcases the entire community, not just downtown.

“It gives [people] a chance to see what downtown Iowa City is and what we have to offer,” Arnold said.

Another benefit of the event, aside from broad exposure, is the attention to retail shopping and local venues and restaurants, Arnold said.

“It’s a great thing to get people downtown,” said Gary Appleby, the chairman of the Iowa Arts Festival and a board member for Summer of the Arts. “We really try to appeal to everyone … we try to mix it up and have a little something for everybody.”

Appleby, who said he was enthusiastic about the many live entertainers scheduled to perform, said the committees try to appeal to University of Iowa students as well as “townies” and said he wishes it was possible to hold Summer of the Arts all year around.

Right now, Barnes said, the event is scheduled to end Sept. 3 because of busy fall schedules and Hawkeye football games.

“We’re not ruling out expanding more into September,” she said. “We’re looking at if the funding goes well.”

One UI student said he’s excited to return to the festival.

UI junior Matthew Jerkins said he remembers seeing enormous sand castles on the streets of Iowa City in the summer when he was younger.

Jerkins said the competition at Summer of the Arts was a unique activity in downtown Iowa City.

“Since I live closer to downtown, it’s a lot easier for me to get to go,” Jerkins said. “It’s just a matter of walking down the street.”

Jerkins, who attended the event last year and said he plans to go again this year, said he likes to attend the event as an alternative to drinking, although he said he wasn’t sure if that would be effective for many other young adults.

“It’s just kind a good experience and a nice community thing,” he said.

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