Columbia Festival of the Arts celebrates summer of Silk Road Stories
By Katie V. Jones and firstname.lastname@example.org
Howard County Times|
Jun 02, 2016 | 2:28 PM
On June 10, Columbia Festival of the Arts will open its annual summer festival of music, dance, food and art. With the theme "Silk Road Stories," the festival will feature Asian-inspired art as well as the premiere of the Columbia Film Festival.
"We thought summertime would be a good time to try it," said Robert Neal Marshall, marketing and communications director for CFA, of including the film festival. "It's not really Silk Road theme, but there are films from Japan."
The two-day film festival will feature new artists and new films from all over the world, Marshall said, and will also include the Maryland Student Film Festival Shorts.
"Film festivals are popular all over. People really like them," Marshall said, noting that last year's Sundance Short Film festival attracted a variety of ages. This year, the Sundance Film Festival Shorts on Tour will take place on June 12.
Film festivals are typically profitable, too, he said.
"There is a high profit margin," Marshall said, with "revenue from people submitting films and revenue from people coming to watch."
Since 1987, CFA has hosted a summer festival that traditionally began with a free opening weekend on the Lakefront. For various reasons, including availability, the growth of the event and parking issues, a new location was needed this year.
"We had the opportunity to go to Merriweather and put it at Symphony Woods," Marshall said. "It will be the same thing as at the Lakefront but .. .with new flavors."
The family-friendly event will not open the summer festival this year, but will take place in the middle of it and be known as "Weekend in the Woods Festival." The free event will feature live music, kids' entertainment, craft vendors and strolling performers.
"It used to be a kick-off festival and there were two weeks of ticketed events," Marshall said. "This year, it is a middle event. You can eat food and have a good time."
Finding sites to host CFA festival events can be a challenge, Marshall admitted.
"We don't have our own venue. We do rely on some of the great community centers," Marshall said. "It costs to rent space. We are very dependent on availability of venues."
Since 2014, CFA has worked with four smaller festivals instead of its traditional one 16-day festival in the summer. This year, CFA's winter festival, "Beyond the Blues," saw great success, while its spring festival, "Viva La Vida," was not quite as strong.
"The spring festival went very well, but overall attendance was down," Marshall said. "Spring has a lot more going on with spring breaks and family travels. It still did very, very well."
Plans are underway to restructure again.
"We are thinking of having one really nice event each month," Marshall said. "We are kind of changing ... our structure."
By hosting events throughout the year instead of around a certain time and with a certain theme, CFA might be able to attract a wider audience through different programs.
"Dealing with themes restricts or limits us," Marshall said. "We always make an effort to entertain and reach out to diverse audiences."
The success of "Post Secrets," a production that was not part of the winter festival but a special event held between festivals in March, was a "learning curve," Marshall said.
"Post Secret was amazing," Marshall said. " It literally brought in all these people who have never heard of CFA."
"We want to build those future audiences," Nicodemus said. "We want to get our kids enjoying ... what we are doing."
Ticket sales are doing well for the summer festival, Marshall said, especially for Mystic India: The World Tour Bollywood Spectacular on June 18 and for Koresh Dance Company on June 17; the company will also offer a dance workshop on June 17.
This year's summer festival will open on June 10 with Stoop Storytelling. Other events throughout the summer festival include a free lecture with Ronen Koresh, an artist from Israel, and a lecture by novelist Nadia Hashimi on June 26.
"We're hoping for great attendance," Nicodemus said. "The events we are presenting are stellar. They really are."