‘the looff’ arts festival continues to grow in stature

Event features artists, food trucks, musicians and entertainers

EastBayRI.com ·

EAST PROVIDENCE — Though the first two years were nothing to sneeze at, the third edition of “the looff: East Providence Arts Festival” sponsored by the East Providence Arts Council to be held this weekend over the landmark Crescent Park Carousel grounds is shaping up to be the largest and most inclusive event yet.

In a recent press release, Courtney Rook Repoza, festival director and Arts Council vice chairwoman, noted more varied art forms have been added this summer while the number of artists in those disciplines has grown. The 2017 “looff” includes for the first time a “Writer’s Row,” where over 25 area authors will be available to present and discuss their writings.

“There are incredible artists that are going to display their works,” said Arts Council chairman Rick Lawson. “One of our mission statements is to connect the community with the Arts. There are so many amazing people here (in East Providence) and in the area creating amazing art, but not everyone knows about it. So this is what festivals like ours are for, to expose people to the Arts.

“It’s also about bringing the community together, because we are a community-based organization. We’re bringing different elements of the community together to discover the Arts and have a good time, have a big party.”

The music of “the looff” certainly plays into the party vibe organizers are seeking to create. Performers range from students from the nearby “School of Rock” group to the “Big Nazo Band.”

“Being a musician myself you always want to see other musicians getting exposure to a different audience, a larger audience,” Mr. Lawson said. “We’re giving them another place to perform and it adds to the vibe we’re trying to create, which is a wonderful thing.”

Mr. Lawson and the members of the East Providence Arts Council can’t be faulted for their enthusiasm.

Just three short years ago they came up with the idea for “the looff,” hoping to make it a cornerstone of the city’s summer entertainment calendar, and they have succeeded. The group has also been instrumental in placing the Arts at the fore of East Providence’s improving and emerging reputation as a receptive locale for creative types.

“East Providence is on the rise, and we’re using the Arts to put the word out there,” Mr. Lawson said. “We’re using the Arts as a way of showing this is the place to be. The Arts are really starting to contribute to the identity of the city. I really think things are turning around for the better. People are feeling really good about the city right now with what’s going on at the waterfront. Our finances are in order. We still have to fix our roads and our schools, but I think there’s a good vibe out there.

“What we’re trying to do with things like the festival is bring people together. I get the sense everyone is putting their oars in the same direction. I think East Providence is going through a change, and it’s good to see the Arts being a big part of that.”

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