The rural town of Independence, Kansas, with roughly 9,200 residents, does lay claim to one famous native son: Pulitzer Prize and Academy Award-winning playwright William Inge. A theater festival is held annually in Independence to celebrate Inge and over the years has drawn such luminaries as Arthur Miller, August Wilson, Wendy Wasserstein, and Stephen Sondheim.
The William Inge Center for the Arts and Independence Community College, with enthusiastic support from the local business community, school district, cultural groups, government, and not-for-profit organizations, will use an Our Town grant to support the first annual Independence Summer Festival of Theatre and Art. The multidisciplinary festival will present performances, arts workshops, exhibitions, and concerts in both traditional and nontraditional spaces, including theaters, schools, public streets, retail spaces, museums, and libraries. Over the course of the four-week festival, professional theater-makers, musicians, and fine artists from the Midwestern region will share their expertise and craft through performance, display, instruction, and mentoring. The festival's centerpiece will be a rotating four-show repertory of plays that are evocative of small-town America, both past and present. It is estimated that the festival will be attended by as many of 20,000 people.
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