Weeklong POW! WOW! Worcester arts festival returns Aug. 16; Spanish artist will create interactive mural leading up to event

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POW! WOW! Worcester, an international arts festival that adds a variety of public art to the city each year, announced it will return this summer with a focus on community development, diversity and arts education.

The festival will run Aug. 16 to 23 with a variety of events in the 10 weeks leading up to the official kickoff. Artist and installation sites will be announced in early July.

“POW! WOW! Worcester continues to evolve each year in response to economic, cultural and societal shifts in the city,” festival director Jessica Walsh said in a statement. “From stimulating walkability and improving public safety to engaging youth and encouraging civic pride, our committee felt it was important to bring more activation to the community over several weeks.”

The first collaboration will begin June 17 with an interactive neon mural on the newly resurfaced Allen Court Alley in downtown Worcester.

The project is a partnership between the Worcester Cultural Coalition, the Worcester Business Development Corporation, The Grid (MG2) and the Federal Square Condo Association. The mural will be created by Spidertag, a self-proclaimed “street art superhero” and muralist from Spain.

“This project marks a critical step for improving the condition of Allen Court,” Craig Blais, president and CEO of the WBDC, said in a statement. “The WBDC has committed to improving the streetscape of Allen Court and I am thrilled that abutters and other stakeholders are contributing to aesthetic improvements. This demonstrates the commitment of the WBDC, The Grid and the Federal Square Condo Association’s commitment to transforming Allen Court into a safe and attractive pedestrian way.”

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Inspired by geometry, abstraction and neon materials, Spidertag will create a permanent interactive neon mural in Allen Court Alley using flexible cables and other industrial resources. The battery-operated installation will take nearly a week to complete.

Spidertag will also lead an intimate youth workshop at the Worcester PopUp on June 17 from 4 to 6 p.m. Under his instruction, students from Main Idea, Art Reach and Preservation Worcester will learn how to create small light-based sculptures that simulate some of the process of Spidertags own work.

Since 2016, POW! WOW! Worcester has curated over 115 pieces of public art, consisting of 89 murals and more than 26 seasonal and permanent installations, and now maintains the largest collection of murals in New England.

Local and visiting artists travel to the city to paint for POW! WOW! Worcester as part of the POW! WOW! Worldwide network of festivals founded by Jasper Wong in 2011.

The POW! WOW! Worcester local organizing committee is made up of city residents, students and business professionals whose mission is to encourage walkability and enhanced connectivity between different neighborhoods in the city, advocate for youth arts education, stimulate dialogue, inspire change, promote diversity and inclusion, contribute to a greater quality of life and create a sense of community through public art.

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