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New Lackawanna Arts Fest Offers Innovative Activities For August 4 Lackawanna Arts Weekend

With the rebranding of the former Arts on the Square to the Lackawanna Arts Fest, Lackawanna County is expanding its community reach and focusing on attracting new and different groups to the event, in addition to promoting Lackawanna County as a cultural tourist destination.

The successful arts festival, developed from a partnership with ScrantonMade, a public relations and event planning firm for artists and artisan vendors, is now in its sixth year and continues to grow with over 150 vendors, live music, food and interactive art for all ages.

New items planned for this year include sponsoring a “Transformation Butterfly Installation” project and activity tent.  The Transformation project was developed through the ARTS Engage! Task Force, a group spearheaded by the Lackawanna County Arts and Culture Department, which brings together county departments and community groups to create programming that utilizes the arts for social change. It originated from a discussion on the growing opioid crisis and how the arts can play a role in healing the community.  A “Transformation” tent would promote the positive, life changing aspects of recovery and reduce the stigma of addiction.

A butterfly origami activity will be led by Studio Verve Vertu, an arts apprentice studio from Dallas, PA.  It specializes in working with persons who face emotional, physical and intellectual challenges.  Assistance for the exhibit will be offered by women from Clem Mar House, a long term recovery house in Luzerne County.

The ARTS Engage! Task Force decided to expand the idea of transformation to include the community at-large, as a way to collect and tell stories of personal and community change. Verve Vertu, in partnership with Moscow Clayworks, created 700 ceramic butterflies that will hang in the trees around the Lackawanna County Courthouse. Some of the butterflies were painted by veterans from the St. Francis Transitional Center and members of the West Side Senior Center, Abington Senior Center,  Mid-Valley Senior Center, The Jewish Community Center, The Dunmore Senior Center. Lackawanna County’s Area Agency on Aging is sponsoring a free van ride to senior centers for older adults to participate in the arts festival and see the butterfly installation. People are invited to take a butterfly home and to post a photo or tell a story on social media about their own thoughts and experiences with transformation, using the hashtags “nepatransform” and “artsengage.”  The transformation project will continue throughout the end of the year with community projects and story-telling.

In the spirit of community transformation, refugee artists were invited to participate in the Global Tastes venture.  A partnership with the University of Scranton, Lackawanna College, Catholic Social Services and Terra Preta Restaurant, Global Tastes was a public event showcasing the food and culture of the area’s refugees over the past three years. This year, two Syrian refugees responded to participate in the festival.  Samir Adbdo, an oil painter and former art teacher from Syria, and Bashar Attar, also from Syria, who works as a copper metal artist with roots in a traditional Bedouin art.

Lackawanna County Arts and Culture Department, Visitors Bureau, ScrantonMade, First Friday Scranton and the Scranton Jazz Festival created and marketed the concept of a “Lackawanna Arts Weekend” to encourage people living approximately one to two hours away from our area to consider coming here for the weekend. The organizations developed hotel packages and marketing strategies with the intent of marketing our community’s ever-rising variety of cultural, dining and outdoor experiences.

Please contact the Lackawanna County Arts and Culture Department at 570.963.6590, ext. 102, or email arts-culture@lackawannacounty.org with any questions.