Bay Village Foundation grant gives BAYarts stage a facelift
BAYarts is kicking off another fun-filled summer season of community events including the free neighborhood concert series. The popular series originated in 2006 when Bay Village resident John Begala asked if he could play guitar in front of BAYarts Station House coffee shop (now Vento).
The music grew into a main attraction which led John to seek funding to develop a full-fledged concert program. He had 2 "musts" in mind: the musicians must be local and the concerts must be free and open to all ages. With a grant from The Leonard Krieger Foundation, BAYarts was able to build a stage and hire professional musicians for summer night gatherings.
The series remains a popular summertime way to catch up with neighbors, hang in the park and be home just past sunset. Additional funding over the years makes it possible to keep the concerts free while attracting a diverse mix of regional acts. Bands say they love to play at BAYarts for the beautiful setting and receptive audience.
The original stage was installed on the front campus in front of the Huntington House. Music lovers would sit on the Huntington porch, or on blankets and lawn chairs close to the stage. This intimate, family friendly setting was ideal, unless of course it rained (flooding) or the power went out (acoustic anyone?). But with BAYarts' growth, lack of accessiblilty and dated lighting had to be addressed.
Fast forward to 2010, the Fuller House opens and the stage was moved to behind the caboose to be used for special events while the concerts took place on the Fuller House main gazebo. Although the gazebo is an ideal stage for big events like BAYarts' Moondance benefit in the fall with over 1,000 guests in attendance; for smaller, casual summertime audiences, the intimacy was lost and flourishing gardens started to block the view.
This year, thanks to a generous grant from The Bay Village Foundation, the original stage will again be the focal point of the concerts. The $2,800 grant from the Bay Village Foundation will allow BAYarts to build a bigger stage platform, closer to the audience and the friendly setting that makes these neighborhood events so special to the community. "Its like a city-wide block party," commented one concert-goer, as kids played on the caboose or tossed a frisbee, and neighbors caught up over picnic dinners. The concert series always closes with an Open Mic night hosted by Bay Village musician Dan Elliott. For a complete list of concerts and times, visit bayarts.net.