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Artpark promises biggest summer season ever

by jmaloni
Sat, May 19th 2012 07:00 am

Venue books A-list performers including Sheryl Crow, Sublime, Huey Lewis

Preview by Joshua Maloni

The phrase "You get what you pay for" has never rung true at Artpark.

Until now.

For 10 years, Artpark & Company brought rock 'n' roll legends to Lewiston and didn't charge a dime for tickets. Audiences, in the 5,000-to-15,000-range, were able to watch performances by such acts as Styx, Lynyrd Skynyrd, ZZ Top, Michael McDonald and America, for free, as part of the "Tuesday in the Park" concert series.

But when crowds started to reach the 30,000 mark in 2011, Artpark & Company realized this concert format was not going to work in the Village of Lewiston. At the behest of residents, elected officials and local leaders, who said such an influx of people wasn't practical for a one-square-mile village, the Artpark board opted to make a significant change for the 2012 summer season.

At a press conference in March, Artpark & Company President George Osborne said, "In response to our patrons' concerns about overcrowded conditions for Tuesday concerts, the new amphitheater is being fenced and gated and we anticipate limiting the size of the crowds to between 10,000 and 12,000."

To facilitate this action, "This year, a ticket will be required to enter the concerts and, for a majority of the concerts, the price will be $5 in advance," Osborne said.

Artpark & Company will charge between $5 and $15 for this summer's "Tuesday in the Park" concerts (see ad on next page). The full schedule was announced at a press conference on Tuesday at the Barton Hill Hotel & Spa in Lewiston.

The ticket cost should preclude stragglers from wandering into the park and bumping attendance figures. The new crowd control measure will "make it a better experience all the way around," said Artpark & Company Board Chairman Christopher Brown.

For Artpark & Company, the decision to charge admission for the "Tuesday in the Park" concert series wasn't seen as a negative. The new revenue source allowed Osborne to book acts far surpassing past lineups in terms of star power. This year's headliners include Sheryl Crow, Yes, Huey Lewis & The News, Sublime and Roger Hodgson of Supertramp.

With a free concert series, "We couldn't have had this lineup - not quite," Osborne said. "We wouldn't have been able to afford it, in all honesty."

"They're all bands that sell a lot of tickets," he said. "We had a lot of competition from Fallsview and Casino Niagara."

Click here for the full schedule

Osborne said he is excited to hear Sheryl Crow, who is arguably the most famous name on the "Tuesday" schedule.

"I've been trying to get Sheryl Crow for a few years," he said. "She's been out of our price range."

Mark Thomas, western district director for the state Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, said, "This is an exciting new season we're kicking off."

"We ask the community to once again come up and support Artpark & Company in its programs," he said. "It will be easy to do with the program that George and his staff have assembled."

Artpark concertgoers will notice a brand new outdoor amphitheater setup, "which we feel is going to really enhance the experience for all the patrons," Brown said. Changes include a new stage, new stairs, improved stone seating areas around the bowl, a "green room" for musical acts, and new buildings for concessions and park management.

While the amphitheater is still a ways away from completion, Artpark officials are planning to have everything in place prior to the first "Tuesday" concert, which is Kansas on June 19.

"We've gone forward believing we'll be ready," Osborne said. "There's just still challenges everyday. ... If we're not ready, we have alternative plans to move that show inside the theater. But I believe we'll be ready."

In the video below, George Osborne reveals the "Tuesday" and "Wednesday" concert headliners

For more information, visit www.artpark.net.

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