Summerset Festival of the Arts is providing a creative outlet. Now it’s up to you to plug in.
The annual “arts party” returns to the University of Wisconsin-Baraboo/Sauk County campus this weekend, bringing an increasingly broad and eclectic mix of performances and workshops.
“Summerset is an opportunity for us to appreciate the creative genius inside all of us and to connect with one another through making and enjoying the arts,” said Lauren Love, the festival’s artistic director. “I have seen all kinds of people unleash their inner artist at Summerset.”
A major addition to this year’s three-day festival is a fashion show headlined by local products Rachel Frank and A. Laura Brody, who have found success as designers. The designers also will present fashion design workshops.
Interactive workshops are key to Summerset’s design: The crowd is invited to appreciate others’ art and create their own. For example, CAB Theatre of Baraboo will present a workshop on improvisational comedy Sunday afternoon and put on an improv show that night.
“What sets Summerset apart from many other festivals is the adamantly interactive nature of the festival,” said Bridget Morrey-Seals, the campus’ director of development and an organizer of the festival. “Almost every event has a way for all guests, of any level of expertise, to join in.”
Also key is integrating a broad range of disciplines. Activities include workshops on bellydancing, turning old books into sculptures, and puppet making. There’s a nature walk, screenings of locally produced films and dance exhibitions. Evening concerts and the annual theme dinner — Cajun style this year — continue to draw larger crowds each year.
“We have worked very hard with a team of artists from all disciplines to truly have a highlight for everyone,” Morrey-Seals said. “Programming is designed to be interactive and accessible to all — all levels of expertise, all ages, and … all levels of income.”
Organizers strived to schedule activities with minimal overlap, so attendees don’t have to choose between them. “We are bursting at the seams with interactive events – and have had to be careful not to present too much,” Morrey-Seals said. “We responded to comments from guests last year that they wanted to see everything.”
Donor support and attendance has gradually risen over the years, making organizers optimistic this will be the strongest Summerset yet. Turns out there are a lot of latent artists out there waiting for a chance to plug in.
“Some of my best memories are of seeing kids and parents working together on a painting or joining in on an improvisation sketch,” Love said.
“I really get a kick out of new arts collaborations forming right in front of my eyes,” Morrey-Seals added. “Summerset truly is an arts incubator.”