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Inaugural arts festival hopes to provide big boost to local arts scene

Jonathan Roberts • Sep 29, 2019 at 8:00 AM

After years of growth and dreams of hosting a public arts festival highlighting local artists, the Johnson City Public Art Committee finally made that dream into a reality.

“This is what the Public Art Committee is here for, to bring arts to the forefront of the community,” said committee member Nancy Fischman. “This is really to celebrate local and regional artists.”

And though it’s too early to tell how the festival will change in the future — or even if it’ll return — one thing was certain: Local artists finally got a chance to show off their work in their hometown, something that many had hoped for.

Artist Jason Flack, who also painted one of the sesquicentennial trains, said that for a while, it felt as though the local arts scene had largely been ignored by the community, but that having a festival like Art Struck was a fantastic way to get artists to come out and interact with their community.

“If you build it we’ll come,” he said.

And though it’s no secret Johnson City’s arts scene has come alive over the past half-decade, Art Struck is a way to take that scene to the next step.

“I think, number one, this really demonstrates us (becoming) much more well-rounded as a city,” said Johnson City Mayor Jenny Brock. “I want our children to be exposed to a broader set of cultural values, and art is just one of things.”

Fischman, who hopes to open an art gallery and studio space downtown in 2020, said she feels art can be “a real economic generator” for the city and the surrounding region.

“I think people go to Asheville, they go to Knoxville, they go to Roanoke, they go to Atlanta to buy art, but people go to these places and buy art that’s created here and pay the prices (a big city) is charging instead of coming here to buy the art,” Fischman said. “I just think it’s so important that we support local arts.”

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