Lauren Craig Source: LinkedIn

Lauren Craig Source: LinkedIn

Wednesday evening saw the kickoff or Newark’s 15th annual Open Doors Citywide Arts Festival. This year’s festival includes hundreds of visual and performance artists showing and performing their work at dozens of venues in the city, from fine arts institutions to places that have been converted into galleries and performance spaces. (Check the Open Doors website for a list of featured events, many of which include shuttles to transport festival goers to various locations.)

I asked Lauren Craig, marketing manager for the Newark Arts Council, what visitors can expect from the festival this year.

Andaiye Taylor: It seems there’s even more diversity in the types of exhibits this year. Was that a conscious effort and how did you make that happen?

Lauren Craig: Thank you for noticing! Yes, there certainly was a more conscious marketing effort on the front end of the festival to engage a greater and more diverse number of participants. We held five open calls for for artists, events, pop-ups and galleries, and as a result, Newark Arts and its Open Doors event producer, Gallery Aferro, received more than 300 submissions for participation, from as far away as Amsterdam.

With such an explosion of great ideas, artists and projects, we were able to showcase our best, brightest and most diverse class of exhibits ever during this, our 15th year.

Taylor: What was the thinking behind convening the festival’s launch event at the Prudential Center?

Craig: Newark Arts has forged an important collaborative relationship with Prudential Center, as they are very interested in deeper and more meaningful community engagement. They hosted our annual meeting in June and now are generously serving as the site for our Public Launch and Vendors’ Fair. Prudential Center thinks of itself as a blank canvas for the arts so there will be many more partnership in the future, with an emphasis on local artists.

Taylor: What are a few non-traditional art spaces festival goers should make sure to check out this weekend?

Craig: If attendees are looking for non-traditional spaces, I would make it a point to attend our pop up exhibits. A number of developers and landlords all over town including RBH Group, Hanini and 211 Media Group, have donated empty space to house these temporary exhibits, and it’s a truly special thing to see an art exhibit activate a previously raw space. We have over 40 pop ups as a part of the festival, and they are each excellent.

Taylor: You’ll be hosting another one of your Brown Girls Bar Crawl events during Open Doors. What will be different about the festival edition of the crawl?

Craig: This Open Doors “Rock the Shot” edition of Brown Girls Bar Crawl will be a gallery and bar crawl, so rather than simply going from bar to bar, we will go from gallery to gallery and end at a lounge.

We also partnered with Lincoln Park Coast Cultural District on this crawl so we will be stopping at their pop up exhibit, Rock the Shot, and they are providing a photographer to capture our crawlers. It’s going to be a blast. After all cocktails and culture go perfectly together.

Taylor: It’s Monday morning. What headline would you like to see describing this weekend’s festival?

Craig: “15th Annual Open Doors Citywide Arts Festival Brings New Energy to the City”


The 15th annual Open Doors Citywide Arts Festival runs October 19th through Sunday, October 23rd. Visit the Open Doors website for a list of exhibits, openings, studio tours. Most events are free.

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