ArtsFest discontinued after 30 years

Tandra Smith

ArtsFest, an annual community event that encouraged creativity in young children through multiple art mediums, is being discontinued after more than 30 years.

The event was hosted by the Betty Foy Sanders Department of Art and had taken place on Sweetheart Circle for the last three decades. Many local businesses and organizations in the Statesboro community acted as sponsors.

The event emphasized celebrating the importance of performing and visual arts. Various artists, performers, and other creative minds had an opportunity to showcase their numerous talents and creations at the free public event.

The discontinuation of the event wasn’t an easy decision for the art department.

“It’s not a decision that [the department] took lightly,” Robert Farber, chair of the Betty Foy Sanders Department of Art said. “It took months to reach a decision and ultimately we determined that it should be discontinued in its current form.”

According to a statement from the department, the scale and scope of ArtsFest had expanded to a point that exceeded the department’s capability to effectively manage the event.

In addition, the art department has moved towards more contemporary theories and practices that address new technology.

Originally, ArtsFest began as a result of a degree that the university no longer offers.

“Many years ago, the department offered a B.S. in Art Education, so that degree was in closer alignment with the mission of ArtsFest,” Farber said.

As of right now, there are no plans to continue an ArtsFest like event on Georgia Southern’s campus.

Faber had been in talks with a local arts organization and was hopeful that something could’ve taken the place of the event, but that doesn’t seem likely. However, a few alternatives have been suggested.

“The department is talking with the Averitt Arts Center on a different event which would be a fall event and more in alignment with the current mission and the programming of the department,” Farber said. “The fall event would focus on contemporary practice art and design, things like that.”

Along with working with the Averitt Center for the Arts, the department hopes to create new experiences for high school students in Bulloch County, such as adding a juried scholarship exhibition of student work, plus opportunities for students to earn college credit through dual enrollment.

Farber has also said that the department has received a few calls from the Statesboro-Bulloch County Parks and Recreation department about having an ArtsFest like event at a different location in the community, but the art department would not be directly associated with the event at all.

As for the legacy of ArtsFest, Farber believes the event will live on in stories.

“The legacy and the lasting impact are the stories of those who have attended the event and the children that have attended. Those things were very positive for everyone,” Farber said.

Reactions about ArtsFest being discontinued appeared all across social media, with some individuals calling for President Bartels to step in and possibly stop the event from ending, while others posted about their memories of the event under the hashtag, #LongLiveArtsFest.

Photo courtesy of Betty Foy Sanders Department of Art.