International arts festival to celebrate culture

Rebecca Cross, Staff Writer

Francis Marion University (FMU) will host the 2014 Arts International festival on Saturday, April 12 from 11 a.m. until 5 p.m.

Arts International is a cultural festival that offers food, music, entertainment, contests, and exhibits. The festival provides a fun, hands-on way for FMU students and locals to experience a variety of cultures through various medium. With such a variety of performances and activities to be featured at this year’s festival, the committee is expecting a large crowd. Admission to the annual event is free.

According to Kathy Johnson, Coordinator of Special Events at the FMU Office of Community Affairs, “The purpose of Arts International is to provide an opportunity for members of the community to enjoy performing arts and international culture on the beautiful FMU campus.”

During Arts International, there will be three performance venues for musical performers – the Adele Kassab Recital Hall, an International Stage located in front of the Smith University Center, and a Blues and Beach Stage located in front of Founder’s Hall. In case of rain, the outdoor performance venues will be moved indoors. Performers include the Florence Men’s Choral Society, Nantucket, Three Days Blues, Ballet Folklorico de Mexico, and Thirza Defoe, a Grammy award winning Native American performer.

“With such a large variety of performances during the day, participants will enjoy a broad array of genres and styles of performing arts,” Johnson said.

Other activities include a sidewalk chalk art contest, Florence-Darlington Technical College’s Welding Sculpture Competition, and various cultural activities and corporate displays. Interactive learning experiences, face painting, and balloon sculptures will be available for children under the Fine Arts Center Patio.

International cuisine will also be available for purchase. Greek, Italian, German and Japanese flavors are just a few of the many options. For those over the age of twenty-one, there will be international drinks for sale at the International Beer Garden.

According to Johnson, a committee of volunteers consisting of representatives from FMU, local businesses, international corporations, and others have been working to plan the annual Arts International festival.

Since Arts International is a festival in which Francis Marion University and the Florence community partner in planning and presenting, it provides a unique cultural experience for both FMU students and members of the community.

“Arts International provides yet another opportunity for FMU students to experience arts and culture in a fun, relaxing atmosphere,” Johnson said. “The events and activities at Arts International [also] allow community members to enjoy high-quality and diverse performances that they might not otherwise be able to experience.”