The Phoenix Reporter and Item (http://www.phoenixvillenews.com)

Arts Montco wants to spread the word about all that’s happening

Two sites you need to bookmark now

By Brian Bingaman, bbingaman@21st-centurymedia.com, @brianbingaman on Twitter

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

You can now better plan what you do for fun with a site featuring online calendars loaded with events from more than 200 Montgomery County arts and cultural organizations and attractions: www.artsmontco.com (also see www.valleyforge.org/arts-culture).

Launched in 2017 by the Valley Forge Tourism & Convention Board — the destination marketing organization for Montgomery County — the Arts Montco site offers easy access to live music venues, award-winning playhouses, historic movie theaters, museums, art centers, gardens and arboretums.

“What better way to do this than the web? The web is still the first place people go,” said Jessica Willingham, the VFTCB’s director of arts and culture. “We’re thrilled to put a spotlight on the wealth of arts and culture organizations in our county, and the easy accessibility to visit, explore and enjoy these attractions. Visitors will read about upcoming events, learn about the venues and explore all the county has to offer in the arts and beyond. We wanted to create a resource center that will be user-friendly with easy functionality for guests of all ages.”

The Arts Montco site has you covered with links to booking hotels close to the events you’re interested in, and the “Crave” Montgomery County dining guide.

“It’s an opportunity to raise awareness to promote events outside the region. We have 75 hotels (in Montgomery County),” said Ed Harris, the chief marketing officer of the VFTCB.

Although VFTCB’s valleyforge.org has tabs for “Things to Do,” “Events,” “Hotels” and “Restaurants,” “there was no collective identity ... when it comes to the arts in Montgomery County,” said Willingham.

This past summer, Arts Montco helped promote the first Montgomery County Studio Tour, which had 20 studios and featured 51 artists.

The catalyst for Arts Montco, Willingham said, was promoting a rare, outside-the-city engagement for a Cirque Du Soleil tented show, “VOLTA,” set for this summer in the area around the Greater Philadelphia Expo Center in Oaks.

“There’s the Philadelphia Folk Festival — that happens in Montgomery County. ‘Orchestras and classical music? I didn’t know that was available. Oh, historic sites, what’s that about?’ I’m sure we’re just scratching the surface,” she said, confident that more groups and institutions will join in to share their programs, performances, exhibits and events.

Also designed to inspire visitors to explore Montgomery County as an arts destination, and to build community awareness and pride around the arts, are the Arts Montco social media channels, @artsmontco on Facebook and Twitter. The social pages provide fun facts, promote “hidden gems” in the county and more.

Also of note, the City of Philadelphia Office of Arts, Culture and the Creative Economy is about to relaunch the Arts Access Calendar on the creativephl.org site. As of press time, a firm date was not yet finalized. But stay tuned to http://creativephl.org/events, where information on close to 30,000 events across the City of Philadelphia will soon be posted. According to the office’s communications specialist, Carrie Leibrand, the calendar will include 570 Philly venues and organizations. The revamped online calendar could prove to be a boon for arts and culture organizations with limited marketing resources. “Certain neighborhoods don’t get the same publicity as much as Center City,” Leibrand said.