Western’s summer arts fest expanding, moving from summer to fall

CULLOWHEE – Changes are in the works for the CulloWHEE! ArtsFest in 2004, as organizers of Western Carolina University’s annual celebration of the fine and performing arts are expanding what was a one-weekend event in early summer into a series of events to be held throughout the fall semester.

The revamped CulloWHEE! ArtsFest Series is being planned to coincide with the opening of Western’s new Fine and Performing Arts Center, a $30 million showcase for the arts and humanities. Currently under construction, the 122,000-square-foot facility will provide classrooms, studios, galleries and support space for students in the arts, theatre and dance, including a 1,000-seat hall capable of hosting Broadway-quality performances.

Crowds gathered at the main stage at the 2003 CulloWHEE! ArtsFest event.

Crowds gathered at the main stage at the 2003 CulloWHEE! ArtsFest event.

“The idea behind the original CulloWHEE! ArtsFest was for Western to provide a presence for arts in the region and to become a destination for patrons of the arts. The festival was envisioned as part of our efforts at Western to provide the type of music, theatre, dance and fine arts programming sought by a growing percentage of the traveling population,” said John W. Bardo, chancellor of the university.

“With the positive response we received after the two summer festivals, we think we achieved that goal. Now that the new center is opening later this year, it’s time to continue the evolution from a single weekend of programming into a major series spanning several weekends,” Bardo said.

A university committee is working to develop a schedule of events for the new arts series, including a nationally known entertainer who will perform at the grand opening of the Fine and Performing Arts Center, most likely in late October or early November.

Details on the series will be announced as soon as they become available.