The goal of the organization is to bring together area artists, musicians, arts organizations, businesses, government, and arts lovers to foster better communication and cooperation in support of the arts. It is our belief that a strong arts community is key to improved quality of life and vibrant economic development.
The Arts Alliance of Greater Waynesboro (AAGW) has worked towards accomplishing this goal through several initiatives, including Destination ARTS!, Destination INNOVATION!, and Music Makers: Our Community Music Center. Each initiative represents a wide variety of educational opportunities, entertainment, and life-enriching activities such as exhibits, concerts, classes, and special events to benefit the entire community.
A steering committee for what would later become the Arts Alliance of Greater Waynesboro (AAGW) was established in the spring of 2012 through the hard work and vision of its founder, Andrew Sussman.
In the belief that a strong arts community is key to improved quality of life and vibrant economic development, the goal was to develop a way to bring together area artists, musicians, arts organizations, businesses, government, and arts lovers to foster better communication and cooperation in support of the arts.
Led by Sussman, the first board of directors was formed in September 2012, and AAGW was incorporated as a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization. Over the years the board has consistently reflected the breadth of the community with members from businesses and town management, as well as educators, area artists and arts enthusiasts covering the spectrum of artistic disciplines.
With a focus to integrate the arts into our community life and help arts education thrive, AAGW has collaborated with schools, community nonprofits, arts organizations (nonprofit and for-profit), artists of all artistic disciplines, and the area represented by the Waynesboro Area School District.
AAGW’s members worked to promote artists in every discipline and their work, and to raise community awareness.
Three Arts Initiatives
Under the umbrella of the Arts Alliance, Sussman founded three arts initiatives to help accomplish this community arts awakening: Destination ARTS!, Destination INNOVATION!, and Music Makers.
Destination ARTS! was conceived as a community revitalization project based on the arts, with the ultimate goal of turning Waynesboro, Pa., into an arts destination. The initial project converted seven vacant commercial buildings on Main Street into curated art galleries, plus filled an additional eight storefront windows with art.
Planned as a 15-week project, Destination ARTS! was launched on July 19, 2013. It ended on October 27, 2013, and accomplished displaying over 1,600 pieces of art from more than 120 artists, including some of the most highly respected artists in the Mid-Atlantic states. The project brought together artists and musicians, community members, businesses, and more than 200 volunteers. All seven of the original gallery spaces were rented following the first year of Destination ARTS!.
Destination ARTS! was such a success, it relaunched after closing for just one week, and has remained active every weekend, year-round, since November 2013. Currently, five galleries continue to operate downtown. Over the past five years, thousands of pieces of art have been displayed (and much of it sold) and hundreds of musicians have performed in a wide variety of musical styles. The hum of ongoing arts activities has added immeasurably to the vibrancy of our downtown, and we hope will effect a permanent transformation of our downtown into an arts and culture destination. Open four days a week, visitors enjoy world class art in a premier gallery setting, plus live music every Friday night, artist demonstrations, classes, workshops, performances and other special events.
Destination ARTS! continues to be the most successful program born out of the AAGW’s initiatives for the community.
In 2015, a new initiative was sponsored by AAGW, Destination INNOVATION! Viewed as building upon the revitalizing success of Destination ARTS!, the program was created with a goal to focus on the past, present, and future of the Waynesboro area’s innovation and invention. It was felt with the stronger presence of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) in the school system this was another way to help connect our community.
Destination INNOVATION! featured an ongoing series of speakers, workshops, demonstrations, and interactive displays of 3D printing, robotics, electric vehicles, drones, solar panels and other technologies, as well as an escape room, examples of work being manufactured by active local industries and historical displays illustrating the area’s rich innovative past, including companies such as Geiser, Frick, Landis and Grove.
In the summer of 2018, to help bring a renewed focus to Destination INNOVATION! the AAGW partnered with Beacon House Inc. to begin offering learning experiences for area children interested in STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics). The goal for this partnership is continue providing the bridge between technologies and creativity to show future inventors and creators how to tap into both sides of their brain.
Launched in the summer of 2016, the Music Makers center was created as a collaboration between AAGW and the Cumberland Valley School of Music to provide a unique venue for music forums, workshops, classes, jam sessions, and live performances in Waynesboro, Pa. The space has become the setting for Live Music Fridays, as well as for Open Mic sessions, an ongoing Songwriters Workshop, a community book club, music classes for adults and children, and a variety of special performances.
Adjacent to Galley 50, Music Makers is the latest incarnation of growth for the Arts Alliance of Greater Waynesboro, and of the community it serves.