Wilmington has established itself as a regional destination for arts and entertainment.
(page 1 of 3)
Want to broaden the appeal for your local symphony and draw new subscribers from the tri-state area? Offer them an evening with Bugs Bunny. And maybe Led Zeppelin. It can’t help but make Wilmington a wee bit cooler.
“We launched our Plugged In series in 2008 to appeal to a more youthful audience throughout the Delaware Valley,” says Lucinda Williams, executive director of the Delaware Symphony Orchestra. “The shows were a big success, and we added a lot of out-of-town names to our mailing list.”
DSO isn’t the only cultural institution with a good story to tell. Delaware Art Museum is also drawing visitors from around the region. Great shows help. So does advertising them on big billboards along I-95 in neighboring states. And so does a partnership with Amtrak, whose Arrive magazine has helped spread the word in surrounding commuter cities.
Both institutions are excellent examples of local arts icons casting a widening net and making Wilmington a true destination for regional art enthusiasts.
The city truly does offer it all. There’s art. There are cutting-edge productions by The Delaware Theatre Company and lavish shows by OperaDelaware. There are exciting annual celebrations. And, there are new events that are helping the city up its cool quotient.
Thank the institutions themselves. And thank, in part, Cityfest, a tax-exempt corporation that seeks sponsorships and grants to subsidize Wilmington’s contributions—both money and staff—to arts and culture. “Cityfest is committed to providing leadership in integrating arts and culture into the socioeconomic life of the community,” says Tina Betz, director of the mayor’s office of cultural affairs.
Cityfest supports several homegrown attractions that draw crowds from across the region. Nationally renowned is the annual Clifford Brown Jazz Festival each June, which celebrated its 20th anniversary in 2008. The weeklong festival, held at various venues downtown, celebrates the brief life of the Wilmington-born trumpeter whose talent has been compared to Dizzie Gillespie and Miles Davis. The festival draws national performers. All shows are free.
But that’s just one week of the year. To keep the party going, the city and the Christina Cultural Arts Center launched the Clifford Brown Year Round Series of concerts by up-and-coming national jazz acts at The Grand Opera House. Singer and bassist Esperanza Spalding. the Eric Mintel Jazz Quartet, Point Blank and Maurice Brown Effect comprised the inaugural series.
Page 2: Look Here, continues...