The Fall season is going to be a big one in Montgomery County.
This year marks the first-ever Arts Montco Week, which in its inaugural go-around has already acquired an impressive number of attractions and events that span over 10 days.
“We are going to be putting the highlight on the arts, cultural, and entertainment attractions here in Montgomery County, which normally account for over $100 million in positive economic impact for the community,” says Bryan Buttler, a spokesperson for Arts Montco Week. “Visit Valley Forge knows that these attractions were truly hit hard during the pandemic, and we are using this week as a way to shine the spotlight on these really vital venues and attractions. There’s something for everyone—from museums to concerts to even a scarecrow festival. We’re also shining the light on the incredible diversity in our arts community, highlighting many BIPOC-owned businesses and galleries.”
From Sept. 17 to 26, Philadelphians and visitors from all over will be able to check out everything the area has to offer for the festival, which has been continuing to grow since it was first announced earlier this year.
“We’re really hoping to highlight the incredible people who bring culture and arts to life in Montgomery County. Normally, the arts and culture sector creates hundreds, if not thousands, of jobs in Montgomery County. Take for example when a Cirque du Soleil sets up in the county—that creates hundreds of jobs for local employees, plus, all of the businesses in the area, from retail to restaurants, are positively impacted with customers and commerce,” continues Buttler. “We’re hoping to show the incredible arts infrastructure that is in the region and to show the general public that entertainment, culture, and tourism is alive and well in Montgomery County.”
To be exact: The goal of the initiative is to help reinvigorate Montgomery County tourism’s normally robust $1.65 billion positive economic impact – including more than 25,000 jobs.
There is so much to check out in the short time that Montgomery County is offering this extravaganza, and there are plenty of highlights to choose from.
On Saturday, Sept. 18 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and then on Sept. 19 from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., visitors can join artists Lynnette Shelley (animal and nature paintings), Amy Bruckner (mystical mosaics) and Albena Pashova (abstract acrylics) for an open studio tour. This is a free event that is a part of the Montgomery County Studio Tour during Arts Montco Week.
Another event to keep an eye out for is the Howl at the Moon Paint Party at the Eclipse Center for Creative Community on Sept. 25 at 7 p.m.. This particular event is BYOB and is open to anyone 18+. While there, participants will be able to create an acrylic paint-wrapped canvas project with artist Niki Leibowitz.
For film buffs, there will also be plenty of movie screenings to check out during this 10-day festival at the Broad Theater. Screenings will occur at various days and times (a full schedule is online) with tickets running $9 for adults, $8 for seniors over 65, students, and military, and $7 for children under 12. There’s also a lot of history associated with the theater as well. As the release states: The Broad Theater opened in 1922 as a single-screen movie theater. It was the entertainment hub of the community for generations until its doors were closed in 2004, then on Nov. 28, 2020 the Broad Theater opened as a state-of-the-art three-screen movie theater.
Another standout on the list of attractions is the John James Audubon Center. While here, guests of all ages will be able to connect with nature and discover more about birds in their natural habitat. The Audubon Center is located at historic Mill Grove, the first home in America of famed artist and naturalist John James Audubon. An additional must-see is the Legoland Discovery Center Philadelphia in Plymouth Meeting. As the release states, visitors will be able to Explore Miniland, a Philadelphia Lego replica made of 1.5 million Lego bricks, plus a special Arts Montco logo built entirely out of Lego bricks. Guests can also create and race a LEGO car down a giant speed ramp and explore the “magic” of the fun attraction. The Lego Halloween Event also begins Sept. 25 for fans of the haunted holiday.
“I love the John James Audubon Center in Audubon—it’s a gorgeous estate that features a new museum where science and art intersect. If you love birdwatching and learning about our feathered friends, it is absolutely a “must do” attraction,” explains Buttler. “Also, on Sept. 18 and 19 we are highlighting the Montgomery County Studio Tour, a free two-day event where art lovers can get access to the creators of their favorite local art and get a clearer understanding of the creative process. For families, Legoland Discovery Center at Plymouth Meeting Mall is a must. Also, the Keswick Theatre in Glenside is bringing Grammy-award winner Bela Fleck to town on Sept. 19.”
There really is so much to check out at Arts Montco Week for all ages, walks of life and creativity-lovers. Those who head to the festival can also check out a free gallery exhibit of local artists at the Haya Ground Studio on various days and times; check out the annual 3rd Fridays in Souderton boasting live music, food trucks, a beer garden, winery, lots of vendors, art, ice cream, and extended store hours; attend the 22nd Annual Ursinus College Fringe Festival Drag Show back by popular demand; participate in a free dance class at The Dance Depot throughout the festival, attend the Scarecrow Festival (Sept. 18-19 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.) where you can build your own life-size straw friend and invite your family members and friends to participate in this fun fall activity; attend the Jason Salmon Fundraiser Comedy Show for a good cause; and much, much more.
It’s a lot to keep up with, but it just goes to show the abundance of creativity and artistic expression that the area has.
“Folks can get the most up-to-date information on the week by downloading the free Visit Valley Forge app,” explains Buttler. “It’s a fun and easy way to check out offers, search for events, and learn more about Montgomery County.”
According to the release, users will also be able to claim special offers under “Maps & Info,” enjoy free digital highlights that are family-friendly, discover the best attractions, search-by-cuisine-restaurants, 80 hotels, outdoor activities like golf, and more through the app.
This new festival is free for arts and culture venues to participate, with no requirements for in-person or virtual programming, and will feature a website, blog, video, public relations, and social campaign. All venues are following local and federal health agency guidelines and regulations. Patrons are encouraged to check each venue for their specific safety measures, and updates to the Arts Montco Week lineup can be found at valleyforge.org