Citywide Arts Festival: Connecting community through the power of art

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Laura Zorawowicz is director of the Citywide Arts Festival, set for Sept. 12-18. Photo/Melanie Haney

A community united by the ideals of compassion and creativity has incredible power. Art of all kinds – music, literature, traditional arts, visual arts – can lift a community.” – Martin O’Malley

MANCHESTER, NH – Manchester is home to a diverse and thriving art scene, and you may have noticed mini monsters around the city over the past weeks. These are just the beginning of what will kick off a vibrant display of all types of expression and art next week as the Manchester Citywide Arts Festival unfolds from September 12 – 18.

The festival hopes to highlight the best of Manchester and her artistic community through being diverse and inclusive, collaborative and connected, and by putting small businesses and local artists at the forefront.

Festival director, art instructor, and homeschooling mother, Laura Zorawowicz describes the celebration as an umbrella under which many different forms of art and expression will intermingle. The festival is a means to show how art can both powerfully resonate with and be accessible to everyone.

“So many people are looking for more ways to have connections, especially now,” Zorawowicz explained, “and art makes connections. We want to make sure it is approachable and interactive, especially that kids have a place to be involved.”

Zorawowicz herself finds inspiration in building connections within her community. The former art teacher has worked at Palace Theater for the past 12 years as a bartender while also raising her children and learning the chaotic joys of homeschooling. Endless inspiration can be found in both of these tasks – being with our children opens our eyes and souls to the immediacy and vibrancy of everyday life and draws our attention to the wonder in even the most ordinary of moments. And, bartending can be a way of connecting and storytelling all on its own. And, even after leaving a traditional career in the arts, Zorawowicz remains an inspired artist and was the perfect person to be asked to direct this inaugural Citywide Arts Festival.

Organized by The Palace Theater, the festival will include an entire week of affordable (or free) events, demonstrations, and hands-on interactive art projects for all ages to participate in. 

The Citywide Arts Festival was made possible through a $10,000 community activation grant awarded to The Palace Theatre. Event director Laura Zorowowicz, has spent months trying to draw the community together. Photo/Melanie Haney

During the week, the Currier invites community members to contribute to an ongoing, large-scale weaving project that represents individuals and communities as a whole.

Dimensions in Dance will offer a dance class with storytime (for ages 2-5), and there is a whole calendar of activities with other activities ranging from ballet to printmaking, and pumpkin topiary workshops available on their website.

The week culminates on the 17th and 18th, as a two-day street fair at the Opera Block on Hanover will offer free family-friendly for everyone. The fair will include an art market made up of dozens of local artists, artisans, and crafters, interactive art installations and experiences, live performances by local musicians & dancers, and food trucks, and events at all partner locations throughout the city. 

The Mission Statement you’ll find on the bottom of their website pretty perfectly sums up exactly what Zorawowicz and her team appear to have to put together for our city, and I for one am very excited to participate with my family and community in this fantastic endeavor.

The mission of the Manchester Citywide Arts Festival is to offer unique and meaningful points of connection between the greater Manchester community, local artists, and creative small businesses. We accomplish this through a program of diverse and accessible events that span a broad range of media and experiences, from theater to fine art, to literature, comedy, music, dance, and more!

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About this Author

Melanie Haney

Melanie Haney is a photographer, writer, wife, and mother of four. As a writer, she has been the recipient of literary awards and her fiction has been published in national magazines and in an assortment of literary journals. Her short story collections ('The Simplest of Acts' and 'This Perfect Mess') can be found on Amazon. Outside of creative pursuits, she is the co-director of the Thrive Outdoors Community Leadership Center on Elm Street.