Thirty Seconds: Tina Betz: Director of the Mayor’s Office of Cultural Affairs in Wilmington




Photo by Luigi Ciuffetelli

Tina Betz has served as director of the Mayor’s Office of Cultural Affairs in Wilmington for more than a decade. Her office handles events like the popular Clifford Brown Jazz Festival. Betz is also a classically trained opera singer and has a thing for scarves.

DT: Some people still say that Wilmington shuts down at 5. Do they say that to you?

TB: Very few people say it directly to me. I’ve experienced Wilmington after 5. Lots of stuff happens after 5. Some people just like repeating themselves, and they don’t want to change their minds. It takes all types. That’s why there are couches and TVs.

DT: Tell me about your trademark scarves.

TB: I probably have about 100-plus scarves. I find them at lots of odd places: second-hand shops in New York or Philadelphia, or the Salvation Army here in Wilmington. I have no idea when I started, but it’s something that my family knows about me and they give me scarves for presents. And I wear them all. They’re my babies, and I never give them away.

DT: I understand that your husband is Fat Rick of Fat Rick’s BBQ fame.

TB: Yes. “The King of Barbeque,” as he likes to call himself. Of course, he does it in Spanish, so a lot of people don’t know what he’s talking about.

DT: What are the advantages/disadvantages of being married to The King of Barbeque?

TB: The big advantage is that he cooks about 90 percent of the time at home. The disadvantage is that he cooks about 90 percent of the time at home.

DT: Has the mayor lost his marbles?

TB: (laughs) You know what? I like people who march to the beat of their own drummer, who are true to themselves. I think the mayor is very true to himself, and I respect that and I love that about him. I would not change a thing about Mayor Baker. He says what’s on his mind. He’s very committed to the city. I know sometimes people think that he’s just talking without thinking. He’s extremely thoughtful. So, if he’s lost his marbles, then that’s fine with me. 

 

Thirty More Seconds

DT: What does your office do?

TB: We do arts programming and special events. That’s sort of the bottom line summary. Some of the specific things we do, we manage Theatre N, Delaware’s independent film theater. It’s been in business about nine years. We also manage the Wilmington Children’s Chorus, about 120 children from Wilmington and surrounding areas. The chorus will be celebrating its 10th anniversary coming up.
We do the DuPont Clifford Brown Jazz Festival. By ‘do,’ I mean we coordinate it, we book it, and everything that comes with putting on the weeklong festival we do in my office. We’ll be celebrating the 24th year of that.
We also do the Riverfront Blues Festival, Art on the Town and various and sundry other things that are arts related and special events related here in the city.
Fringe is our newest baby that we do. We try to fill the niches here in Wilmington where it feels like something’s missing. We just need to fill those little artistic voids, so that’s what we do.

DT: How long have you worked in the office?

TB: In a year and a half, it will be 12 years. I started in 2001 and this is actually the second time I’ve been employed by the city. I also worked with Dan Frawley back in his administration as the director of cultural affairs. My first big job was coordinating the 350th anniversary of the landing of the Swedes and Fins in Wilmington and the anticipated visit of the kind and queen of Sweden and other dignitaries of Finland and Sweden. I came on board and stayed for a few years, then left to go do my own thing and came back in 2001.

DT: Will a new mayor mean a job change for you?

TB: It doesn’t necessarily mean that. But I’m anticipating that that’s what it will mean. Not simply because whoever is coming on board may not see me as a good fit, although that’s certainly a possibility, but also I’m taking a look at the options that are available to me in the next phase of my career. So, there’s a pretty good possibility that the city will see some new blood in this position in 2013.

 

DT: What’s the best part of your job?

TB: Each day is very, very different from the day before. It’s definitely not a regular 9 to 5 job. And it’s definitely not the type of job that you know when you come in that the day is going to be totally structured. That’s not to say that it’s totally unstructured. But right now I’m working three or four major projects. A couple of public art commissions, the jazz festival, the blues festival, Fringe Festival planning, so every day is just very, very different from the day before and will more than likely be different from the day after. I like that about my job.

DT: How tough has it been to keep all these events afloat during this bad stretch with the economy?

TB: It’s not easy. It’s never easy. If we had all the money we ever needed, and I don’t know what that amount would be, then maybe it would be easy. I have never had that luxury. The way I try to approach it is whatever I have is what I work with. We are really fortunate to have a lot of good friends, a lot of good partners. So that’s how we make it work by leveraging our relationships and working with people who have common goals. And the one big common goal is to do whatever it is that we can continue to do in Wilmington to make it a really lively and friendly and arts-infused city. So yes, it’s tough. Would we like it to be less tough? Absolutely. But it is what it is.

DT: You’ve probably met a lot of famous people through your work. Who are some of your favorites? Or, am I wrong and you’ve not met anybody interesting?

TB: (Pause) Everybody I’ve met has been interesting in their own way. One of the things that people find surprising when I talk to all the artists who have come through Wilmington is I cannot remember a bad experience with an artist. They come through and I don’t know if we’re just lucky in the people we pick, almost every jazz artist that’s out there has come through Wilmington. But everybody is just so happy to be here, so every experience has been an exciting one. It’s very difficult for me to choose any one or even a couple, and that’s a good thing. I’m sort of always looking forward to who the next person will be. I guess it’s an impossible question for me to answer, because I haven’t answered it. (laughs)

DT: That’s OK. Is there anybody who hasn’t come through that you’d like to see perform?

TB: Although I’ve seen B.B. King a number of times, I have not had the opportunity to present him. I would love to have the opportunity to present him.

DT: Well, once we put this in the magazine, he’ll probably show up and knock on your door.

TB: He’s been here in Wilmington at The Grand, but you know we haven’t presented him in the Jazz Festival or the blues festival. I think that would be a wonderful thing to do. We’ve had many of the greats, Herbie Hancock and Wynton Marsalis, Arturo Sandoval, just on and on and on.


DT: What are the big factors that have started to change the perception that Wilmington shuts down at 5?
 

TB: We’ve gotten a lot of press recently about the renovation of the Queen and World Cafe Live coming to town and Hal Real, who is the bigwig at World Cafe Live, moving from Philadelphia down to Wilmington. I think stories like that happen more frequently than people know about, but when people start talking about it or for whatever reason it starts making a big splash. It makes a big splash. I think that’s very helpful to telling people about what it is that we do. The thing is we’ve been doing things like that for a long time. But it sometimes takes a really big happening, like the opening of World Cafe Live, for people to start paying attention again. So we need to make sure that we have a constant stream of new things that are happening in Wilmington. Three years ago, the Fringe Festival was a new happening that got a lot of attention. The opening of WCL got a lot of attention. Those are probably two of the most exciting things and thing a lot of people didn’t think would happen. Two years ago, when there was talk about doing the renovation at the Queen, there were a lot of people who didn’t think it would happen, or happen in the short time period that it did. But it happened. The same with the Fringe Festival. There were people here who said, “In Wilmington?” Yeah. We can do that here in Wilmington. There are people who want to enjoy that type of art. We have consumers and we have artists who are in that place. In September, we will be doing our third year with two successful years behind us. We have to keep doing things like that. There are enough people here who believe in Wilmington and its potential. I think there is nothing but hope on the horizon.

DT: Tell us about your career before you worked in the mayor’s office. You were an actress and singer?

TB: Yes. I also produced corporate events, product launches and meetings for top-level managers at resorts at various places around the country. I was a special events coordinator before coming to the city. Just as an independent person outside of government and outside of corporation, doing all sorts of fun things and going to all sorts of fun places. I did a lot of performance, both stage and some voiceover and some film work before I came back to work with the government.

DT: Is there anything you’re especially proud of with that work?

TB: The closest thing I did before coming here was Stephen Sondheim—my love—I did “Sweeney Todd” up at the Arden Theatre. I got a credit. I was the bird seller. That was really, really exciting. I did a lot of training films and some voiceover work. Even now when I’m in a supermarket, somebody will come around the corner if I’m talking to my husband or my daughter, and they’ll say, “I recognize that voice.” Everything I do, I do it and I love it and then I move onto the next thing. So it’s difficult to have a favorite. Everything is my favorite while I’m doing it. Then I’ll always look forward to the next thing, which will more than likely become my favorite.

DT: You’re also a trained opera singer and you do some performances locally?

TB: Yes. I’m classically trained and I do light opera. I sing as a member of an octet called the Choral Scholars. That’s an ensemble that’s in residence at the Episcopal Church of Saints Andrew and Matthew. So we sing regularly there and we also sing out in the community at various places and functions. I also was the narrator last year when the Delaware Symphony Orchestra performed the Lincoln Portrait. So, I’m called upon every now and then to sing, sometimes to narrate. I sang in a group with two other women a few years ago. The Three Mo’ Sopranos. We performed up and down the Mid-Atlantic for three or four years.
 

—D.O.

 

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February 2016

Delaware State University will feature the following events and exhibitions during its 2016 Black History Month celebration: Wednesday, Feb. 3 Black Lives Matter Symposium Documentary...

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Delaware State University will feature the following events and exhibitions during its 2016 Black History Month celebration: Wednesday, Feb. 3 Black Lives Matter Symposium Documentary...

Cost: FREE and open to the public

Where:
Delaware State University
1200 N DuPont Highway
Dover, DE  19901
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More information

Explore some of the diverse ways that human beings have understood sex and sexuality, gender and gender diversity in this small but broad new exhibition, presented in conjunction with the 2015-2016...

Cost: Free with Museum Admission.

Where:
Penn Museum
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Delaware State University will feature the following events and exhibitions during its 2016 Black History Month celebration: Wednesday, Feb. 3 Black Lives Matter Symposium Documentary...

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Where:
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1200 N DuPont Highway
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Our Winter Group Show features oil paintings by Rosemary Castiglioni, Jim Gears and Mary Ann Weselyk. Still-life paintings with subtle color variations by...

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The Station Gallery
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Nanticoke Memorial Hospital
801 Middleford Road
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Telephone: 302-629-6611x2446
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Cost: Free with Museum Admission.

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East Coast Garden Center
30336 Cordrey Rd
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500 McKennans Church Rd
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Telephone: 302-654-8638
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More information

Delaware State University will feature the following events and exhibitions during its 2016 Black History Month celebration: Wednesday, Feb. 3 Black Lives Matter Symposium Documentary...

Cost: FREE and open to the public

Where:
Delaware State University
1200 N DuPont Highway
Dover, DE  19901
View map »

More information

Explore some of the diverse ways that human beings have understood sex and sexuality, gender and gender diversity in this small but broad new exhibition, presented in conjunction with the 2015-2016...

Cost: Free with Museum Admission.

Where:
Penn Museum
3260 South St.
Philadelphia, PA  19104
View map »


Website »

More information

Two-hour guided tours are offered at 10:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. Guests will visit Eleutherian Mills Residence, the first du Pont family home built in America; the First Office...

Cost: $0-14

Where:
Hagley Museum
201 Hagley Creek Rd
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View map »


Telephone: 302-658-2400
Contact Name: Meg Marcozzi
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Cost: Free

Where:
Kimmel Center - Commonwealth Plaza
300 S. Broad St.
Philadelphia, PA  19102
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Sponsor: Kimmel Center
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A successful writer of Broadway thrillers is struggling to overcome a dry spell when he receives a script from a student —a potential Broadway hit. Thereafter suspense...

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More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Delaware State University will feature the following events and exhibitions during its 2016 Black History Month celebration: Wednesday, Feb. 3 Black Lives Matter Symposium Documentary...

Cost: FREE and open to the public

Where:
Delaware State University
1200 N DuPont Highway
Dover, DE  19901
View map »

More information

Our Winter Group Show features oil paintings by Rosemary Castiglioni, Jim Gears and Mary Ann Weselyk. Still-life paintings with subtle color variations by...

Cost: Free

Where:
The Station Gallery
3922 Kennett Pike
Greenville, DE  19807
View map »


Telephone: 302-654-8638
Website »

More information

Explore some of the diverse ways that human beings have understood sex and sexuality, gender and gender diversity in this small but broad new exhibition, presented in conjunction with the 2015-2016...

Cost: Free with Museum Admission.

Where:
Penn Museum
3260 South St.
Philadelphia, PA  19104
View map »


Website »

More information

Two-hour guided tours are offered at 10:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. Guests will visit Eleutherian Mills Residence, the first du Pont family home built in America; the First Office...

Cost: $0-14

Where:
Hagley Museum
201 Hagley Creek Rd
Wilmington, DE  19807
View map »


Telephone: 302-658-2400
Contact Name: Meg Marcozzi
Website »

More information

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Cost: Free

Where:
The Gibby Center for the Arts
51 W Main St.
Middletown, DE  19709
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Sponsor: The Gibby Center for the Arts
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Contact Name: Caroline Zeitler
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Cost: Free

Where:
, DE


Sponsor: Rehoboth Beach Film Society
Telephone: 302-645-9095
Contact Name: Jeri Kaplan
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Cost: $50

Where:
Nanticoke Memorial Hospital
801 Middleford Rd.
Seaford, DE  19973
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Telephone: 302-629-6611 ext. 2540
Contact Name: Maternal Child Health Clinical Educator
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Where:
, DE

More information

Ditch the winter whites for a world of dazzling color at Longwood Gardens, where you can stroll through thousands of orchids in bloom. Kennett Square, www.longwoodgardens.org 

Where:
, DE

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A successful writer of Broadway thrillers is struggling to overcome a dry spell when he receives a script from a student —a potential Broadway hit. Thereafter suspense...

Where:
, DE

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Our Winter Group Show features oil paintings by Rosemary Castiglioni, Jim Gears and Mary Ann Weselyk. Still-life paintings with subtle color variations by...

Cost: Free

Where:
The Station Gallery
3922 Kennett Pike
Greenville, DE  19807
View map »


Telephone: 302-654-8638
Website »

More information

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Cost: $13

Where:
Pennsylvania Convention Center
1101 Arch St.
Philadelphia, PA  19104
View map »

More information

Explore some of the diverse ways that human beings have understood sex and sexuality, gender and gender diversity in this small but broad new exhibition, presented in conjunction with the 2015-2016...

Cost: Free with Museum Admission.

Where:
Penn Museum
3260 South St.
Philadelphia, PA  19104
View map »


Website »

More information

Two-hour guided tours are offered at 10:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. Guests will visit Eleutherian Mills Residence, the first du Pont family home built in America; the First Office...

Cost: $0-14

Where:
Hagley Museum
201 Hagley Creek Rd
Wilmington, DE  19807
View map »


Telephone: 302-658-2400
Contact Name: Meg Marcozzi
Website »

More information

This art exhibit features fine art works and three dimensional pieces that embrace the subject “red.” Artist are free to use their imagination and creativity, so works will include...

Cost: Free

Where:
The Gibby Center for the Arts
51 W Main St.
Middletown, DE  19709
View map »


Sponsor: The Gibby Center for the Arts
Telephone: 302-449-5396
Contact Name: Caroline Zeitler
Website »

More information

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Cost: Free

Where:
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Sponsor: Rehoboth Beach Film Society
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Contact Name: Jeri Kaplan
Website »

More information

This art exhibit features fine art works and three dimensional pieces that embrace the subject “red.” Artist are free to use their imagination and creativity, so works will include...

Cost: Free

Where:
The Gibby Center for the Arts
51W Main St.
Middletown, DE  19709
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Sponsor: The Gibby Center for the Arts
Telephone: 302-449-5396
Contact Name: Caroline Zeitler
Website »

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A spoiled orphan girl is sent to live with her uncle on the Yorkshire moors and discovers renewed life, for herself and her sickly cousin, in bringing her dead aunt’s secret garden back to...

Cost: $15–$18

Where:
The Secret Garden
47 W Main St.
Middletown, DE  19709
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Sponsor: The Everett Theatre
Telephone: 302-540-8561
Contact Name: Chris Everett
Website »

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Meeting every Friday, Bayhealth Kent General Hospital, 640 s. State Street, Dover, 7:30 pm., Private Dining Room #3 in the basement. For those who have, or think they may have a gambling problem....

Cost: 0.00

Where:
Bayhealth Kent General Hospital
640 S. State Street
Private Dining Room #3
Dover, DE  19901
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Telephone: 800-855-2CALLGA
Website »

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Playing folk, Americana and blues, Sand Creek is a central Delaware institution of a band.   Friends of Folk is a nonprofit organization devoted to the promotion and preservation...

Cost: Free

Where:
First State Heritage Park
The Old State House
25 The Green
Dover, DE  19901
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Sponsor: First State Heritage Park
Telephone: 739-9194
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Art, the fourth element of hip-hop, comes alive for enthusiasts of both art and hip-hop. Let your inner creativity and love for hip-hop hit the canvas. "All I Need" is...

Cost: $40

Where:
Humpty's Dumplings
277 N Keswick Ave
Glenside, PA  19038
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Sponsor: Creative Paint Nites
Telephone: 267-312-8339
Contact Name: Charisse R McGill
Website »

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Ditch the winter whites for a world of dazzling color at Longwood Gardens, where you can stroll through thousands of orchids in bloom. Kennett Square, www.longwoodgardens.org 

Where:
, DE

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Regional artists Carol Tippit Woolworth, Catherine Drabkin, Pahl Alexander Hluchan, Colleen Randall and Dan Jackson explore the concept of place—physical, emotional and spiritual—in...

Where:
, DE

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Christiana Care at the New Castle Farmers Market Location: New Castle Farmers Market, 110 N. Dupont Hwy., New Castle, Market Stage Area Time: 11 a.m.–4 p.m. Routine screenings for...

Where:
, DE

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A successful writer of Broadway thrillers is struggling to overcome a dry spell when he receives a script from a student —a potential Broadway hit. Thereafter suspense...

Where:
, DE

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Our Winter Group Show features oil paintings by Rosemary Castiglioni, Jim Gears and Mary Ann Weselyk. Still-life paintings with subtle color variations by...

Cost: Free

Where:
The Station Gallery
3922 Kennett Pike
Greenville, DE  19807
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Telephone: 302-654-8638
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Features activities and crafts that help visitors learn about local and national political roles in environmental conservation. Visitors can learn about the battle that politicians fought for a...

Cost: Free with admission

Where:
Delaware Museum of Natural History
4840 Kennett Pike
Wilmington, DE  19807
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The Philly Home Show will inspire your inner HGTV star at the Pennsylvania Convention Center in Philadelphia from Feb. 12–14 and 19–21. The show will feature highly interactive...

Cost: $13

Where:
Pennsylvania Convention Center
1101 Arch St.
Philadelphia, PA  19104
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Explore some of the diverse ways that human beings have understood sex and sexuality, gender and gender diversity in this small but broad new exhibition, presented in conjunction with the 2015-2016...

Cost: Free with Museum Admission.

Where:
Penn Museum
3260 South St.
Philadelphia, PA  19104
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What was behind the legendary story of King Midas and his golden touch? That is the question to be answered—not with chests full of gold, but with a spectacular array of ancient artifacts,...

Cost: Adults $20; seniors $18; students (with ID) $15; children (ages 6–17) $15

Where:
Penn Museum
3260 South St.
Philadelphia, PA  19104
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Guests can explore three floors of exhibitions in the Visitor Center, stroll along the river through dozens of historic structures from the Industrial Revolution, and explore the gardens and...

Cost: $0-14

Where:
Hagley Museum
201 Hagley Creek Rd
Wilmington, DE  19807
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Telephone: 302-658-2400
Contact Name: Meg Marcozzi
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Penn Museum opens the world premiere exhibition The Golden Age of King Midas—featuring ancient treasures on loan from the Republic of Turkey—with a spectacular daylong public...

Cost: $15

Where:
Penn Museum
3260 South St.
Philadelphia, PA  19104
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This art exhibit features fine art works and three dimensional pieces that embrace the subject “red.” Artist are free to use their imagination and creativity, so works will include...

Cost: Free

Where:
The Gibby Center for the Arts
51 W Main St.
Middletown, DE  19709
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Sponsor: The Gibby Center for the Arts
Telephone: 302-449-5396
Contact Name: Caroline Zeitler
Website »

More information

For more information, please contact: Dave Ruffner ​Rehoboth Beach Film Society 107 Truitt Ave. Rehoboth Beach, DE 19971 302-645-9095, ext. 4 administrator@rehobothfilm.com...

Cost: Free

Where:
, DE


Sponsor: Rehoboth Beach Film Society
Telephone: 302-645-9095
Contact Name: Jeri Kaplan
Website »

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The Rehoboth Beach Film Society and CAMP Rehoboth will co-present "Tab Hunter Confidential" and "Portrait of a Serial Monogamist" as part of its annual Another Take...

Cost: $8

Where:
Metropolitan Community Church
19369 Plantation Rd.
Rehoboth Beach, DE  19971
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Sponsor: Rehoboth Beach Film Society
Telephone: 302-645-9095
Contact Name: Jeri Kaplan
Website »

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"La Sylphide" shares the beautiful and romantic story of our hero, James—a young Scottish farmer who, on the eve of hid wedding, abandons his betrothed, Effie, after being...

Cost: $25

Where:
Salesanium School
1801 North Broom St.
Wilmington, DE  19802
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Sponsor: Academy of International Ballet
Telephone: 1-866-908-5666
Contact Name: Denis Gronostayskiy
Website »

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Venture back with us for an evening where we re-imagine the Victorian Industrial Age as seen through our steam-powered, futuristic goggles.  Our biggest fundraiser of the year and all proceeds...

Cost: $100-$110

Where:
Smyrna Opera House
7 West South Street
Smyrna, DE  19977
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A spoiled orphan girl is sent to live with her uncle on the Yorkshire moors and discovers renewed life, for herself and her sickly cousin, in bringing her dead aunt’s secret garden back to...

Cost: $15–$18

Where:
The Secret Garden
47 W Main St.
Middletown, DE  19709
View map »


Sponsor: The Everett Theatre
Telephone: 302-540-8561
Contact Name: Chris Everett
Website »

More information

Location: St. Mark’s High School, 2501 Pike Creek Road, Wilmington Time: Registration: 11:30 a.m. Race: 12:30 p.m. Fee: $25 (until Thursday, Feb. 11), $35 after and day of event...

Where:
, DE

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Location: Beebe Healthcare’s Medical Center, 424 Savannah Road, Lewes Date: Saturday, Feb. 13 (and the second Saturday of each month) Time: 9 a.m. Fee: Free For more...

Where:
, DE

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Ditch the winter whites for a world of dazzling color at Longwood Gardens, where you can stroll through thousands of orchids in bloom. Kennett Square, www.longwoodgardens.org 

Where:
, DE

More information

A successful writer of Broadway thrillers is struggling to overcome a dry spell when he receives a script from a student —a potential Broadway hit. Thereafter suspense...

Where:
, DE

More information

Regional artists Carol Tippit Woolworth, Catherine Drabkin, Pahl Alexander Hluchan, Colleen Randall and Dan Jackson explore the concept of place—physical, emotional and spiritual—in...

Where:
, DE

More information

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