After 18 years at SouthPointe Pavilions, the Lincoln Arts Festival is moving downtown.
The move of the festival that brings 110 artists from 20 states was triggered by the new Scheels store at SouthPointe.
The large building eliminated much of the parking on the east side of the mall. So the lots on the mall’s west side, where the festival had been held, are needed for customer parking.
While the Huskers are away, Lincoln will play.
But Deb Weber, executive director of the Lincoln Arts Council, which sponsors the festival, said the move had been contemplated long before the Scheels store was constructed.
“We’ve been thinking for five or six years that we were overgrowing the space at SouthPointe,” she said. “But they were such great hosts we didn’t move right away. But we really wanted to have the vibrant downtown location. So we were ready to move.”
The downtown move also allows the festival to take over Tower Square at 13th and P streets, where it will offer an expanded musical lineup, created in conjunction with Lincoln Calling, the annual downtown music festival set to begin Wednesday.
Among those slated to perform on the World Music Stage in the square is Carter Van Pelt, a Lincoln native now living in New York who is an internationally known reggae writer and historian.
Van Pelt, who assembled “Down in Jamaica: 40 Years of VP Records,” a 94-track, multiformat boxed set that will be released next month, will be doing a DJ set.
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Tower Square will also host interactive art activities, including the creation of a crowd-sourced mega portrait of Angel de Cora Dietz by artist Tom Meyers.
Dietz, a painter, illustrator, educator and Native American rights advocate from Winnebago, is considered the best-known Native artist before World War I. The portrait will use a grid system for transferring and enlarging images with visitors each contributing a small square to the grid.
Booths from Art Festival participants will be in place along 13th and P streets next to Tower Square, on 14th Street, and extending down P Street to Centennial Mall.
Moving the festival has also led to partnerships with downtown entities adding more elements.
The Johnny Carson Center for Emerging Media Arts at 13th and Q streets will be showing student films, presenting interactive virtual-reality demonstrations and giving tours of the newly opened center.
The Lincoln Children’s Museum will offer face painting and art activities for kids, an Orchestra Instrument Petting Zoo from the Lincoln Symphony and a performance by a children’s author.
The Nebraska History Museum, at 14th Street and Centennial Mall, will have interactive art activities based on the new 100th anniversary of Women’s Suffragette Movement exhibition.
The arts festival will run from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday. Those hours, which end well before sunset, are practical, given the new location and the music festival.
“With the lighting situation, it wouldn’t be an easy thing to have the artists working at night,” Weber said. “That gives Lincoln Calling a chance to really rev up.”