Shoppers browse at Lincoln Arts Festival

Shoppers browse art tents Sept. 22 during the Lincoln Arts Festival at its new downtown location.

After 18 years at Southpointe Pavilions, the Lincoln Arts Festival moved downtown last month as part of a big weekend for the arts.

In addition to the Lincoln Arts Festival, downtown Lincoln hosted the Lincoln Calling Music Festival and Lincoln PoPS, Lincoln’s first placemaking festival of contemporary art all on the same weekend.

“Despite Southpointe being such a wonderful host for the last 18 years, we knew 2018 would be our last due to construction at the mall and our growing need for space,” said Troy Gagner of the Lincoln Arts Council. “The opportunity to move downtown and collocate with the Lincoln Calling Music Festival was just a great and timely opportunity.”

The move downtown was basically like starting over with the Arts Festival, said Gagner, and the Arts Council learned a lot in its first year downtown. But now the Arts Council can look forward to continuing the partnerships it developed in its first year downtown with organizations like the Johnny Carson Center for Emerging Media Arts, which opened its doors and showed student films during the event.

The Arts Council also collaborated with Nebraska Innovation Studio, the UNL Photo and Printmaking Club, Lincoln Children’s Museum, Nebraska History Museum and local artists like Tom Meyer and Devon Coulson to offer interactive art opportunities as part of the festival.

The Southeast Community College World Music Stage showcased Andean, reggae, beatbox, Americana, jazz and other music styles, and saw performances from local cultural and arts organizations like Jing Mo Tang Chinese Lion Dancers, the Karen Cultural Organization of Nebraska and Dancing Beyond Limits, an adaptive dance program for youth in Lincoln and Omaha.

“The 110 artists from 20 states who participated remain the heart of the festival, however,” said Gagner. “If not for the amazing local, regional and national artists that choose to show at the festival, we wouldn’t have this opportunity to celebrate the arts in Lincoln at this level.”

Planning for the 2020 festival is already underway, and the Lincoln Arts Council hopes to continue to use the festival to connect the people of Lincoln through the arts, Gagner said.


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