What a joyous occasion! The City of Marion celebrated the completion of its ImaginArt in the Alleys project with a ribbon-cutting ceremony on May 20. While we were hoping to use our new stage for this event, cold rain forced everyone inside. Giving Tree Theater, just across the street from the alley, kindly opened its doors for the crowd. Many project partners were in attendance – pictured here are Iowa State Senator Liz Mathis, Linn County Board of Supervisors Chair Brent Oleson, Mayor Nick Abou-Assaly, members of Marion’s City staff, City Council, and Chamber of Commerce Ambassadors. The mayor thanked ArtPlace America for investing in Marion, and gave a nod to the many partners who brought this project to fruition. The space has been so dramatically transformed; he called it Marion’s new living room. The official name for our new gathering place is “Uptown Artway.”

DignitariesFour Iowa artists were in attendance (Dale Merrill, Cara Briggs Farmer, Matthew Kargol and John Schwarzkopf), and each spoke about their experiences working on their art installations. Our Leadership Team, Artist Selection Panel, and major donors also had a turn in the spotlight. Following group photos, we were entertained by the University of Iowa’s PanAmerican Steel Band, provided as a gift by the UI ArtsShare organization. The talented students and their instructor filled Giving Tree Theater’s intimate space with the incredible sound of 30 steel drums. I doubt anyone gave a thought to the cold rainy weather outside…

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