Putting together a large-scale, multi-day arts festival is no easy feet.
Brandon Wunder understands that all too well.
Wunder, creative director of Allentown Arts Fest, said during a recent phone interview that the festival is in serious need of financial support if it is to continue past this year. The 2015 Arts Fest is will return Sept. 11-13 to Cedar Beach Park in Allentown.
The inaugural Arts Fest was held in September 2014. However, that festival was plagued by heavy rain, which put the festival $30,000 in debt, Wunder said. "Everything that can go wrong has gone wrong," Wunder said. "It was difficult to get sponsors (last year). It was difficult to get vendors ... We had too much of certain things, not enough of other things. Being a newer festival, the mix-up of everything, the kind of concept, a lot of (potential sponsors) didn't understand."
He added, "It's really affected our programming and what we can offer."
Wunder said, ultimately, he wants the festival to provide and pay for itself. The goal, he said, is to support local artists by making their hobbies their business. "A lot of artists are self-absorbed in their work, which is good, but they don't focus a lot on the business end," Wunder said. "We want people to create selfishly. We want people to start on their best foot. We want to fund dreams."
Organizers have launched an IndieGoGo crowdfunding campaign, though sponsors are also still being sought. (More than $2,900, as of Tuesday, has been raised out of the goal of $8,000.) He said bringing a festival from idea to reality is more costly than many people realize -- from purchasing proper fencing to securing tables, chairs and a liquor license. Organizers are hoping to raise enough funds to host a "major art auction" in November, Wunder said. "I want Arts Fest to be the premier arts festival in Allentown," he touted.
This year's event will feature skateboard demonstrations by Easton-based Homebase Skateshop, street dancers and street art, an expanded live music selection, a 3-D printer display and the Social Medium stage. The Social Medium stage will be home to improv comedy, underground theater and film screenings.
The focus, Wunder said, is on exhibiting artists and performers who take a unique approach to the creative process. He cited an artist who creates sculptures out of seashells as an example. "We are trying to widen the idea of what art is," said Wunder, who also serves as director of Allentown's The Alternative Gallery. "Art is culture. We want people to realize an art gallery is for everyone ... Arts Fest is an exaggerated version of what The Alternative Gallery does all year 'round."
Allentown Arts Fest hours are: noon to 11 p.m. Sept. 11; 2 to 11 p.m. Sept. 12; 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sept. 13. Admission is free.
Those interested in sponsoring Allentown Arts Fest should email Bernie.Reinert@thealternativegallery.com.