Council revises ArtsCape attendance

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

The Arts Council of Southeast Missouri's leadership has revised its estimated attendance figures for this year's ArtsCape festival, bringing them down from Saturday's early estimates but still showing a marked increase.

Directors of the council met Monday night to compare observations of the festival and take an early look at financial statements. As a result, the estimated attendance was pared down from Saturday's preliminary figure of 6,000 people to somewhere between 4,500 and 5,000 people. Last year attendance was estimated about 3,000.

Arts council director Delilah Tayloe said the attendance didn't meet her expectations, but she was still happy with the turnout. More importantly, she said, "Everybody had a blast."

"I thought it would be great if we could get 6,000, but that was a little high," Tayloe said.

The arts council took a slightly different approach to organizing this year's festival than in the past two years. Instead of headlining musical acts like last year's Trout Fishing in America, the festival featured almost exclusively local talent -- at a lower cost than previous years. If the crowd estimates are correct, the lack of a headliner didn't hurt the festival.

More emphasis was also placed on creating frontage on Broadway to attract potential festivalgoers, with more activities and vendors set up near the Capaha Park pond -- a spot with more visibility from Broadway than other areas of the park.

Local artist Craig Thomas runs the festival's yearly chalk sidewalk drawing contest, possibly the artistic centerpiece of the event. Thomas said this year 40 contestants entered the contest compared to about 25 last year. The number is the most since the festival took place downtown three years ago.

Increased Broadway frontage may have helped attract people to the sidewalk art, which was drawn on the sidewalk around the park pond.

The crowd looked like about three times the size of last year's from his vantage point and that increase might be attributed to more people getting used to the festival taking place every May in Capaha Park, Thomas said.

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