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Barry Schlecker aims to become the life behind the parties.
Since 1970, Barry Schlecker has been known as Mr. Network. “I’ve always been a natural networker,” says Schlecker, who pioneered business-lead groups in the area and has owned two successful personnel firms. Now Schlecker, 70, wants to become known as Mr. Events. And he’s well on his way.
Schlecker founded the Newark Film Festival, scheduled for September 23-30 at Cinema Center 3 in the Newark Shopping Center. This year, he’s adding the Brandywine Festival of the Arts, which will be held in Brandywine Park in Wilmington September 11-12.
The Wilmington festival was inspired by the 2009 demise of the 50-year-old Brandywine Arts Festival. Schlecker, a longtime supporter of the arts, saw an opportunity. “The timing was perfect,” says Schlecker, who sold his company, The Network Group, earlier this year, although he remains as a consultant. “I realized the festival would be a full-time job if I wanted to do it right.”
Schlecker garnered input from Wilmington artists Olga Ganoudis and Larry Anderson and former arts festival organizer John Schoonover. Now juried, the show this year will feature a manageable 250 vendors—not 400—and Schlecker is updating the food and beverage options to include local businesses.
In Newark, the other show must also go on. The film festival, now in its sixth year, will feature 25 to 28 films over eight days. October 1-3, the DAM (Delaware Art Museum) Best of the Fest will highlight the top films at the art museum in Wilmington.
“My goal is to get these two festivals done this year, do them well and look at a spring event,” Schlecker says. “I’d love to do something on the Riverfront using the riverwalk as a base. This is like a whole new business, a whole new life.”
But if you need a plumber, a job or an introduction, you can still give Schlecker a call. —Pam George