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Omaha Summer Arts Festival (OSAF). Image property of OSAF

Omaha Summer Arts Festival (OSAF). Image property of OSAF

By Gabriel Escalera

Omaha Summer Arts Festival Concludes After 50 Years

June 7th, 2024

As local and national artists and visitors gear up for the 2024 Omaha Summer Arts Festival this weekend, a sense of nostalgia and celebration fills the air. This weekend marks the final chapter of the festival’s remarkable 50-year run.

The festival’s marketing coordinator, Maggie Winton, shared insights into the board of directors’ challenging decision-making process.

“The board of directors took a long time to look at all the different options and to consider what was best for the festival. They did a really good job looking into different scenarios, and ultimately they voted to end the festival. There were many reasons, and everyone knows costs have increased across the board since COVID, especially, and so then the festival cost too much,” Winton explained.

The festival moved to Aksarben Village in recent years, offering a vibrant new setting that provided more space for art, food vendors, and performances. While this change helped the festival thrive, it wasn’t enough to offset rising costs.

“It cost almost half a million dollars to produce the festival, and those prices were expected to continue to increase. Fundraising has become a challenge, especially for arts organizations. Looking at future finances, it was risky to continue the festival but have to cut programming versus just ending on the fiftieth celebration,” Winton said.

Since 1975, Victor Gutman, the festival’s Executive Director and a critical funder has supported the event, which began in the Old Market area with just a handful of local artists. The community’s enthusiastic response fueled the festival’s growth, attracting regional and national talent and establishing Omaha as a summer hub of creativity.

As the festival draws to a close, the final weekend will showcase national and local artists, ensuring a memorable finale. Though the festival is ending, its impact on Omaha’s community and arts scene will endure.

Victor Gutman and everyone involved view the festival’s 50-year legacy as a testament to the power of art to bring people together and make a lasting difference.

The 50th annual Omaha Summer Arts Festival (OSAF) will occur in Aksarben Village from June 7 to 9, 2024. All of your favorites return, with 135 artists from across the U.S. and Omaha, a stage featuring dozens of talented local musicians, a hands-on Children’s Fair and Young Artist Exhibition, and some of the best food in Omaha. Plus, the return of the mural cubes.

More information at OSAF