PITTSBURG, Kan. — Crawford County residents eager to get out of the house can enjoy a free weeklong event that will showcase area talent including music, art and theater in venues at Pittsburg State University and at Block22 in downtown Pittsburg.
Now in its ninth year, the annual Pittsburg Festival of the Arts is slated from Sunday to Saturday, June 19. It brings together local artists by giving them a public platform to exhibit their work during the summer months. Last year’s event was held virtually because of the pandemic but will resume in person this year.
In collaboration with the PSU music department and the Bicknell Family Center for the Arts, the festival will feature a mix of outdoor and indoor concerts featuring jazz, brass, Latin, country, classic rock, gospel, bluegrass and chamber music.
"It's a wonderful feeling to once again give local musicians, singers and audiences opportunities for live experiences,” Raul Munguía, festival director and an associate professor of music at PSU, said in a statement.
The festival has grown since its inception in 2013, according to Munguía, who started the event to enhance cultural life in Southeast Kansas. It has gone through many name changes, including the Chamber Music Festival, Pittsburg Music Fest and, most recently, the Festival of the Arts, which was adopted last year.
“I knew we needed to do something,” Munguía told the Globe on Friday. “I placed a call out for artists to get together and do a couple days of music, and we had about maybe 15 to 17 players and a couple of recitals the first year. After that, we’ve been increasing the number of players, and by the second year, we had about 40. Then, the third year we had 50 to 60. My vision is to always include something that’s interesting to the community, so we started adding pop, country music and expanded to other disciplines like dancing.”
There will also be fine arts and classic movies for the first time this year. All of the events are free and open to the public.
“Jazz at Dusk” will kick off the festival with a performance by the Summer Kicks Band, directed by Robert Kehle, at 8:15 p.m. Sunday on the front lawn of the Bicknell Family Center for the Arts. In the event of rain, the concert will be moved indoors to the Linda and Lee Scott Performance Hall in the Bicknell Center. Attendees are invited to bring lawn chairs, blankets and snacks.
On Monday, an art exhibit, grand opening, reception and live artist painting will be held in tandem with the "Latin Flair" concert. Joplin artist Paula Giltner will have an opening and reception for her art exhibit at 6 p.m. in the Bicknell Center Gallery.
An artist painting session featuring Joplin-based artists Margie Moss, Nina Johnston and Jesse McCormick will begin at 7 p.m. Monday, along with the "Latin Flair" concert in the Paul Bergant Lobby in the Bicknell Center. Munguía said the artists will paint along to music.
“It’s interesting and neat to make that connection with art and music,” he said. “Audiences will be able to see those two things happen in the moment.”
Two classic movies — “Road to Bali,” a 1952 musical comedy featuring Bob Hope, and “A Royal Wedding,” a 1951 musical comedy starring Fred Astaire and Jane Powell — will be on the jumbo screen Friday in the Linda and Lee Performance Hall in the Bicknell Center.
The grand finale starts at noon Saturday, June 19, with a solo and chamber ensemble in the Sharon Kay Dean Recital Hall in McCray Hall at PSU.
The week also will feature four noon concerts in Block22’s Evergy Courtyard, 402 N. Broadway. That lineup includes the Ortolani Family Band on Monday, the Pittsburg Brass Quintet on Wednesday, country singer Tim Nowell on Thursday and the Harmony Hill String Band on Friday.
A full schedule of events can be found at facebook.com/PittsburgArtsFest.