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Art in the Square taking a break in 2017
Organizers to 're-evaluate' festival
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Organizers of Art in the Square have decided to take a break this year. " We’re trying to re-evaluate exactly what the festival needs to be," said committee member Amanda McClure.

After a 14-year run, Art is the Square is taking a break — at least for 2017.

Members of the committee who have planned the annual event since 2004 have decided not to hold the festival this fall.

“The committee ultimately has decided to step back from the festival and regroup and decide what we need to do with the event,” said Amanda McClure, a member of the Art in the Square committee. “The time of the year we were holding it in the fall is a prime spot for arts events and we were noticing there were more and more events the same weekend in areas that were within a 50-mile radius. We’re trying to re-evaluate exactly what the festival needs to be.”

The festival has been a mainstay in the fall in downtown Gainesville on the third weekend in September, bringing in a variety of artists with musical performances sprinkled in throughout the event.

“It was a really interesting hodgepodge of artists and artisans who were making handmade items,” McClure said. “There was fine art, folk art, jewelry, ceramics. We encouraged artists to do live demonstrations.”

The music was also varied with performances from bluegrass musicians, a bagpipe player, dance troupes and many other performers.

“It was really multicultural,” McClure said. “It was a lot of fun.”

McClure said attendance has gone down in the past five or six years.

“It’s been a pretty good run,” she said. “I think we’re just looking for a new identity for the event and trying to figure out the best way to do it moving forward.”

Anne Brodie Hill, who was the first director and is also a member of the Art in the Square board, agreed.

“We felt like there weren’t as many people coming as there used to be,” Hill said. “A lot of our major artists who do paintings had stopped coming because they were not making sales. We always had good community support. We will probably bring it back, but are not sure time frame, whether it will be in the fall or spring.

Fox Gardin, the current director of Art in the Square, said the festival cost less than $10,000 a year since it was run mostly by volunteers. She said she hopes to present a new idea to the board for the festival in the early summer of 2018.