Great local eats and swing music. A chance to shop early for a one-of-a-kind treasure. And all in the name of a worthy cause.
An Evening for the Arts is a first-ever preview event on the eve of Williamsburg’s most beloved festival, An Occasion for the Arts (AOFTA), set for Oct. 1-2 in Merchants Square. While the weekend festival is free, An Evening for the Arts is a ticketed event that will be held from 5-9 p.m. on Sept. 30. All proceeds will benefit a new “Artist in Residence” program supporting the arts in Williamsburg/James City County Public Schools.
“We feel it is time for AOFTA to be more than just one fabulous weekend each year, to be a larger part of the community,” said Nancy Wigley, President of the AOFTA Board of Directors. “What better way to do that than encouraging and supporting art in our youth.”
Tickets can be reserved at aofta.org with VIP packages also available.
An Evening for the Arts kicks off with a private shopping event of the artwork from the eclectic mix of festival artists. More than 150 artists from across the nation are participating in the weekend festival, now in its 54th year. An Evening for the Arts offers the chance to unique opportunity to mingle with many of the artists to learn about the inspiration behind their work. The festival will showcase painting, photography, digital, jewelry, metal, wood, fiber, drawing and pastels, ceramics, sculpture, graphics and printmaking, 2-D and 3-D mixed media and more.
At the full reception the begins at 7 p.m., patrons can enjoy small bites from many of the best restaurants in Merchants Square with support from Creative Cuisines Catering.
Participating restaurants include Aromas Coffeehouse Bakery & Café; Baskin-Robbins; Colonial Williamsburg restaurants Gold Course Clubhouse Grill, Rockefeller Room and Sweet Tea & Barley; illy Caffé; Mellow Mushroom; Precarious Beer Hall; The Peanut Shop of Williamsburg; Saladworks; Culture Café; and Retro’s Good Eats.
The Williamsburg-based ensemble Good Shot Judy will play a list of classics during the evening.
As fun as the evening promises to be, it supports an even better cause.
The AOFTA “Artist in Residence” program will bring a practicing artisan into a school in 2023 for a period of time to work on a specific, hands-on project approved by the school board and school.
“By adding this facet of building community through art, students will have an opportunity to interact with a professional artist on a deeply personal project,” said Robin Markowitz, Executive Director of AOFTA. “To experience an artist’s passion and to learn and find a creative outlet, specifically in an era where art funding is difficult, will be an invaluable experience.”
Markowitz said she broached the idea of initiating the Artist in Residence program with the Board of Directors after last year’s festival. “They all agreed instantaneously,” she said. “This is the next step for the organization.”
Patrons who want to make a long weekend of it can book one of five discount hotel packages. Visit aofta.org/hotel-packages.
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