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October 16, 2012

3-year extension approved for Festival of the Arts

Paso Robles Press, A2

3-year extension approved for Festival of the Arts

By Josh Petray

Paso Robles' Festival of the Arts recently received the go-ahead to use Downtown City Park for the next three years.

On Oct. 2, the Paso Robles City Council voted unanimously to allow extended use of the park on Memorial Day weekend through 2015 for the festival, now in its fifth year.

The decisions came following the resounding success of the festival, whose continued vision is to provide a quality art experience for both Paso Robles citizens and visitors alike while stimulating the local economy. The festival is organized by downtown-based Studios on the Park is executed through the cooperation of both the city and Main Street.

Studios on the Park's Sasha Irving said organizers are pleased with the council's decision and grateful for their support and investment in the arts community.

"We want to continue to use the Festival of the Arts as not only a community celebration but also as an opportunity to put Paso Robles on the map as an arts destination, Irving said.

Last year, the festival was attended by an estimated 6,000 people, 40 percent being out-of-towners. Irving said she thinks the festival will continue to "grow, surprise and excite its attendees" with the addition of new and interesting elements, which are added every year.

Visual surprises, as she put it, add to the flair, and people will be blown away by the surprises the committee has in store for 2014.

"Going into its fifth year, the festival has great momentum and will continue to provide a medley of art, music, performance and hands-on experiences that will spotlight Paso Robles as an arts destination," city staff wrote in a report.

Irving said organizers hope to continue to put on a standout event for the local community and state. Fine art by professional artists, high quality arts education for children and stunning performances will remain a mainstay of the event.

"Really what we do is one-of-a-kind," Irving said.

In addition, organizers are excited about continuing to celebrate the Salinas River corridor project.

"We're more than just an arts festival - we have this huge environmental component," Irving said. "We hope to continue celebrating our connection to the Salinas River."

Downtown Paso Robles Main Street Association Executive Director Norma Moye voiced her support for the festival and has been outspoken about it since the beginning. She confirmed her backing with a wave of the arm in support.

Demand - and whether other events want the space on Memorial Day weekend - was a question raised by City Councilman John Hamon.

Assistant City Manager Meg Williamson confirmed that no formal proposal has been brought forth in the past four years of the festival.

In addition, Mayor Duane Picanco questioned, "Are there other events that we're giving a three-year lease, in reality?" Williamson said that newer events usually start off annually; however, she wouldn't be surprised if, for example, Labor Day Classic Car Show organizers, will approach the city for an extension.

Despite some discussion, all of the council members spoke or have spoken favorably of the event.

"This has been really a positive for Paso Robles," City Councilman Nick Gilman said during the meeting.

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