First, let’s get this part out of the way: Fundraising runs are to art as money is to … everything. Art’s not free, nor should it be. Supporting culture actually means paying artists and art professionals. And for the portable toilet rental. Liability insurance is nice. When you support a cultural organization, doing so pays the bills. That’s the point. Am I out of italics? I am not. For twenty-three years, foundation grants, business sponsorships and in-kind donations have afforded the festival an outstanding level of community support. Astounding, even. With this backing, we (and you) have worked to create a truly rocking one-day marketplace for professional artists (and, as noted, that’s what “supporting culture” is).
Fourteen years ago, seeking to further this mission, festival-types looked at each other and said, hmm. If we raised more money, we might be able to do even better by our _____ (fill in the blank: exhibitors, kids’ programming, art education, audience, sponsors, community). And thus! The MAF run (initially a 5K, with our half marathon added in 2012) was conceived. Runner! Beloved runner! Your reason for participating may not be because you love, love, love art – instead, you might be running because you want to challenge yourself, and/or the course is fun, and/or the Expo is a teeming with flirts (uh-huh, that’s right), and/or you like the cash, purchase prizes and giveaways, and/or the shirt is cool. (And, oh! It is.) But, even if accidentally, you are a supporter of the arts. A patron, sweaty and in shorts … arguably, our favorite kind.
And you keep on giving. Two thousand runners kick off our festival day with an energy we might not otherwise enjoy, and further serve to diversify our audience in a way it might not otherwise be. Which brings us to the “why” of other commonly asked questions:
1) For Pete’s sake, do these runs absolutely have to be staged adjacent to City Square Park? On festival day? Yes. Yes. Am I out of italics yet? Still no. We love all our audience members equally. Those running are an important part of what we like to consider a perfect storm: the festival is crazy, period. An improbable day, one during which artists, art, buyers, browsers, runners, kids, grandparents, clay, curry, edification, and education literally collide. (Well, most, at some point – when curry sidles up to clay, watch out.) Subtract any one of these things, and we’d all have a lesser day.
2) Is there a reason the MAF runs don’t incorporate assorted-powdered-colors-blown-onto-participants-as-they-run-by-who-then-later-roam-the-festival-with-the-potential-to-brush-up-against-fine-art-pieces? Runs, with color? A color run, even? Wouldn’t that be, like, a thematic fit? Maybe we just answered that one. Likewise to anything involving mud … as fun as that would surely be.
3) But there are … a lot … of fundraising runs in the spring, right? So very many? There are! Run like the wind! DO US ALL. Our favorite is the Marion Rotary Marathon for Shoes, produced by our pals at the Marion-East Cedar Rapids Rotary Club (June 13-14; check them out at www.marathonforshoes.com).
So. That’s that story. There’s a method to the madness, mostly. Registrations for the Marion Arts Festival Half Marathon and 5K Run & Fun Walk are open! Possibly I should have mentioned this earlier! Details at www.pigmantri.com/races/marion-arts! Saturday, May 16th! Help keep the festival free, fun and family-friendly!
There will be future posts, addressing further festival-y questions. But on this subject, a final note: If you love the festival, then your thanks join with ours as they go out to the team at JMS Racing Services – John, Carla, Bob, and Jill, whose collective patience veers into heroism. Our gratitude? Beyond what italics can convey.