Newly-launched website puts regional arts, entertainment events at fingertips

A new online resource was recently launched that curates all of the arts and cultural events in the Bloomsburg, Danville and Berwick areas into one comprehensive arts-focused website. The Exchange, a non-profit arts organization in Bloomsburg, has embarked on this ambitious project to promote and foster the multitude of arts venues and events in Columbia and Montour Counties.

John Yogodzinski, Director of Arthaus Projects in Williamsport, has partnered with The Exchange to create ArtofPA.org, which is a blend of calendars and general information about art assets in the area. Also partnering in this effort are the Berwick Theater, Bloomsburg University, the Bloomsburg Theater Ensemble, the Danville Arts Council and many others.

“Art of PA began more than five years ago as an initiative of the Columbia-Montour Visitors Bureau and a handful of regional arts groups,” said Oren Helbok, Executive Director of The Exchange, an organization dedicated to bringing the arts to all communities throughout the region.

The website features a robust calendar organized by the many kinds of opportunities available to residents and visitors of all ages, which include theater and music performances; visual arts exhibitions; cultural happenings, including lectures and festivals; and family-friendly events.

Additionally, the site includes information about area venues — from galleries and theaters to restaurants that host bands — and a blog which provides a behind-the-scenes look at upcoming events, exclusive artist interviews and other exciting regional arts news.

The new site offers quick and easy access to essential event information including links to purchase tickets, general contact info, pictures, video and social media. It is also optimized for mobile devices, so no matter where you go local arts information is right at your fingertips.

“It existed primarily as a shared Google calendar that was self-populated and embedded on various local websites,” Yogodzinski said. “It’s a way to connect the regional art venues and share one cohesive calendar.”

Though the site existed previously, it wasn’t being actively monitored or maintained, and interest eventually fizzled out and the project went on hiatus. The Exchange’s board then revitalized the project and put out a call for a Regional Arts Marketing Coordinator on their Facebook page.

Being passionate about the arts, Yogodzinski applied for the position, and helped to bring the concept to a full-fledged, media-driven website. The site not only features a comprehensive calendar, but blog articles and news from the area art venues and organizations.

“My daily role is to scour the internet for upcoming events, and fact check them for accuracy prior to posting,” he said. “I also reach out to all of the art leaders for article ideas and help run the social media promotion of it all.”

The website offers art lovers a chance to explore more of what they may not be aware of in their communities. It also gives the hidden art venues that are often strapped of resources a chance to properly market their initiatives in the arts.

“I was amazed by the sheer volume of great events that go on just about every weekend that I had no idea about,” Yogodzinski said. “Even more locally, I’ve been telling people in the Williamsport Community about some of the fun staple events like BOO!burg and am surprised that many had no idea it even existed.”

Plans for the website include publishing an audio podcast and looking into other ways to offer valuable information to the community.

“I’m exploring the idea of creating an Alexa/Google skill that offers up ‘Things to do in Bloomsburg/Danville/Berwick’ on a weekly basis,” Yogodzinski said.

They also plan to feature videos and articles/interviews that go behind the scenes of upcoming events. Future plans may also include expanding the site to other regions as well.

“We very much want to include as much original content as we can, such as videos with interviews with artists, musicians, gallery owners and others involved in making this a great region to live, work, and play,” Helbok said.

Helbok and Yogodzinski encourage all arts-related organizations that would like to get involved, or anyone interested in promoting the site, to contact John at john@artofpa.org.