Posted: May 12, 2014 Open Air Festival of the Arts in need of new director
The Open Air Festival of the Arts that has been held in Phoenix Park, won't take place this year, unless a new organizer wants to take over.
Jason Anhorn, managing art director of Open Air Festival of the Arts, announced this past November that the festival will not be happening this year. OAFA is an annual event involving fine artists, food artisans, and musical performances. Anhorn said it got to be too much work without any volunteers or sponsors.
"I think if somebody stepped forward or if groups of people stepped forward, I would continue to work on it," said Anhorn.
The biggest issue for OAFA, Anhorn said, is getting sponsors. The event as a whole became pretty expensive for him when he paid for it all out of his own pocket.
As for preparing for the event, Anhorn jokingly said "it's like guerilla warfare."
It takes a lot of work to develop the website and Facebook page. There is also the work of spreading flyers, advertising, and contacting artists. Anhorn was telling people to spread the word all year long.
OAFA originated when neighborhood friends came together and decided to start a festival because Eau Claire did not have one annually. It was a challenge, according to Anhorn. They had to go through several meetings just to get the festival approved.
Anhorn said Phoenix Park is ideal for hosting OAFA because it's in the heart of downtown and a good place for everyone to gather, especially with the Farmer's Market also taking place. OAFA began 8 years ago, when Phoenix Park came to be.
"If you build it, why not use it," said Anhorn.
There were seven people on the job originally, three the second year and after that Anhorn took the festival on by himself. It became easier each year, he said. However, it was a lot to do on his own while also running his own business, Art by Jason Anhorn.
When it comes to recruiting artists, Anhorn would have them submit an application with some samples of their work. He said it's important to keep the festival about fine arts and keep the works featured high end.
"If someone wants to keep the event going, they can take it on," said Anhorn, who is willing to share information with anyone who is interested.