A walk down Main Street inspired Andrew Sussman, co-president of the newly formed Arts Alliance of Greater Waynesboro (AAGW). “I could not help but notice the large number of vacant buildings. A once vibrant downtown appeared to be in a state of inertia, but the innate beauty of the buildings was evident, and the town itself is so charming. I thought there must be some way to turn the presence of these empty stores into a positive advantage. That is when the idea for Destination ARTS! was formed.”
Last summer, the Arts Alliance of Greater Waynesboro (AAGW) launched Destination ARTS! Conceived as a community revitalization project, a dedicated group of volunteers transformed seven vacant commercial buildings into high quality, curated art galleries. In addition, we filled eight storefront windows with art and brought live music, children’s activities, and artist demonstrations to Main Street every weekend. All activities were offered free to the public, and what started as an ambitious 15 week summer adventure has now become a permanent fixture in downtown Waynesboro.
Since July 19, 2013, we have displayed over 2,000 pieces of art (and sold much of it) from more than 150 different artists. We have also presented more than 175 arts related events, featuring over 100 different musicians, artists, authors, dancers, magicians, actors, and a wide variety of children’s programs.
Waynesboro’s new galleries have had visitors from at least 25 different states and eight foreign countries, and people throughout the region have been talking about the exciting changes taking place in our town, and the economic impact has been substantial. Pat Fleagle, former Director of Economic Development of Mainstreet Waynesboro, Inc., PA State Representative, and Mayor of Waynesboro, has referred to Destination ARTS! “the best thing to happen to downtown Waynesboro in 30 years.”
We are proud to say that the seven galleries we opened last summer are now either rented or about to be opened as Main Street businesses, and several other empty buildings are now occupied with other new establishments. Four galleries continue to operate downtown, open four days every week and featuring live music every Friday night and artist demonstrations every Saturday afternoon, as well as offering a wide variety of classes and educational programs. These include our flagship Gallery 50 (still operated by volunteers through AAGW) and the new 42 West Arts Co-op, which has brought together 18 highly skilled artists and artisans to open their own space. People have been talking about the changes in Waynesboro throughout the state and Mid-Atlantic region, and are visiting downtown in increasingly larger numbers, frequenting our restaurants, businesses, recreational facilities, and galleries.
But our work is nowhere near complete! As we approach summer 2014, we are very busy planning additional galleries, more performing arts, children’s programs, and other exciting events. This increased activity will take place for another 15 weeks, from June 27 – October 5. Our hope is that this will lead to an increase in vibrancy and a permanent transformation of our community into an arts and culture destination.
For information about the current schedule of events at Destination ARTS! visit: https://artsalliancegw.org/
Please check this site often for more information and updates!