The Arts on Fire Festival idea emerged in September 2009 at the Wake Up with the Arts Breakfast sponsored by the Lackawanna County Arts and Culture Department. Artists and organizations convened to discuss what they wanted to see happening in Lackawanna County. Several people mentioned an arts festival. Bob Savakinus, Lackawanna County Arts, Culture and Education member and current Chair of the Arts on Fire Committee, desired to see more events at the underutilized Scranton Iron furnaces. It so happened that Keystone College had received that year a Lackawanna County ARTS Engage! grant for high school iron sculpture program with the culminating pour taking place at the iron furnaces in the summer. These three elements were the catalyst for the Arts on Fire Festival and instantaneously people began to talk to each other about creating an industrial arts festival at the furnaces that would showcase the area’s history, but celebrate its creative future in the arts.
Ideas however, are the easy part. To capture a vision and create a living, breathing event is a whole different thing. It’s a lengthy process having groups work together, hash through details, share resources and over come obstacles This can be a messy process and not easy all of the time, but it is also rewarding and powerful as organizations come together to achieve what they could never do alone. When a shared vision transcends individual needs this is what makes a meaningful and successful collaboration. I often refer to the Arts on Fire Festival team in speaking about collaboration, because as you can see from the partner list it is comprised of wide cross-section of organizations and individuals working together including: government agencies, heritage and history groups, arts organizations, colleges and universities, economic redevelopment groups and individual artists. Throughout the past two years of sustaining this event all of these groups have worked together towards a shared goal. Because of their dedication what was merely some sentences on a sheet of paper and words in a conversation have transformed into artists selling their work, musicians playing, real iron being poured, community members and tourists can have a hot dog or some ice cream and enjoy themselves on grounds of historic iron furnaces. This festival is important to Lackawanna County for economic development and quality of life reasons, but also because it tells the story of our valley’s past and speaks to its future. I would like to thank everyone who helped to create this event, and I know our visitors to the festival will have a wonderful time!
Deputy Director of Arts and Culture