TThere is a new man behind the curtain at the Festival of the Arts. Announced as its first-ever interim executive director for the Festival of the Arts, David Abbott plans to sustain the legacy of this festival into its 50th year and beyond.
Taking place the first weekend of June, the Festival of the Arts is West Michigan’s annual celebration for arts and culture. Ever since the installation of the Alexander Calder’s La Grande Vitesse in front of City Hall in 1969, this 43-foot-tall, striking piece of art has been a symbol for the city and has inspired a festivity around downtown Grand Rapids for 49 years.
Collaborating with 2018 event co-chairs Melissa Bush and Jessi Nix Gould, Abbott’s role centers around fund development and building interdependent relationships within the community.
Abbott is very grateful for this position as it will allow him to maintain creative collaborations with all the various artists across West Michigan. “I love the arts, this community, and the collision of relationships that happens over art. We have history to embrace and not be forgotten,” said Abbott.
Before accepting this position, Abbott was an independent brand consultant and served as an influential leader amongst West Michigan, including development and merchandise director at ArtPrize, owner of A.K. Rikk’s Menswear, development director at Goodwill Industries of Greater Grand Rapids, an adjunct professor at Kendall College of Art and Design of Ferris State University, and on the ideation and sponsor development team with Gilda’s Club LaughFest.
For the last 10 years, Abbott has focused on helping burgeoning events and organizations succeed, such as through his work with ArtPrize and LaughFest. Although Abbott finds that maintaining a legacy and creating start-ups are two different energies that require diverse needs, he is excited to enhance his skills and strengthen his mindset by utilizing a new way of thinking.
“I’m looking forward to building upon the historic event with renewed connection to the start, 50 years ago. Listening to the stories of ‘best memories’ will lead our team in crafting all future Festival of the Arts events,” said Abbott.
In this role, Abbott hopes to support stewardship within the community and to continue to cherish established traditions. The interim executive director is also eager to learn and be a part of the volunteer leadership team during this upcoming Festival of the Arts because the volunteers know how “to create a spectacular show” Abbott said.
Not only does this festival provide artists with a platform for creative self-expression, but it is also “an immersion of the senses,” said Abbott. Whether it be listening to a performance while tasting foods from various cultures or looking at the visual art displayed and then making crafts with your kids, Festival of the Arts has something for the entire family and community.
Celebrating its 49th year, Festival of the Arts takes place June 1-3 in downtown Grand Rapids. This family-friendly event is free each day and includes various performances, art exhibitions, food booths, and creative activities for kids and adults. For more information, visit Festival of the Art’s website.