| 2 min read | by Doug Marrin, |

Success can bring its own set of problems.

The Paint Dexter Plein Air Festival began in 2013 and was designed as a fundraiser for the Arts, Culture, and Heritage Committee. The runaway popularity of the Festival, and its substantial growth has created pangs for the Committee who is looking to Dexter City Council for help.

Paint Dexter has been organized and run on a volunteer basis by the Committee and other dedicated residents wishing to promote the arts in Dexter. Mission accomplished. People love the event and come from all over the state to participate and enjoy the week-long festivities and exhibitions held the second full week of August.


A growing event means the work for it also grows.

“We are sort of challenged in that this is a huge undertaking,” said Arts, Culture, and Heritage Committee Chairperson Wa Hubbard at the Nov. 25 City Council meeting. “For the first five years, we had a committee chair who had more time to commit to it than anybody that we have right now on the committee.”

To keep the art festival going and growing, Dexter’s Arts, Culture, and Heritage Committee is asking the City Council to consider creating a paid director position to oversee the planning and execution of Paint Dexter. The Committee is asking the City to consider budgeting $6,000 for the position.

Under former Committee Chairperson, Victoria Schon, Paint Dexter was created and quickly became a destination for artists of all abilities as well as lovers of outdoor art featuring the open air of Dexter and its bucolic environs. After several years of securing the event in Dexter’s cultural life, Victoria stepped aside. The Committee has filled the gap with the help of the city staff. Assistant to the City Manager, Justin Breyer, roughly estimates it takes somewhere between 250 and 400 hours of work for the festival.

The amount of effort it takes to put on Paint Dexter is one thing, the time it takes away from the Committee tending to other responsibilities is yet another.

“The Committee also coordinates volunteers, housing for artists, a property painting list, an adult painting workshop, a children’s workshop, social events for the artists, food in the tent, and beverage sales (this is not a comprehensive list),” stated Dexter City Manager, Courtney Nicholls in a memorandum to the city council. “With the growth of the Festival and associated aspects of the Festival, the time commitment required to hold a “successful” event has grown. As a result, the Committee spends a majority of their meetings, January through July, directing the efforts of the Paint Dexter Plein Air Festival. Then October through December are spent wrapping-up and evaluating the Festival that recently occurred.”

“This event is pretty much the focus of 90% of our meetings because it just takes that much time,” adds Hubbard.

Because the Festival is only breaking even, the Committee no longer considers it a fundraiser but instead promotes it as a community event. Currently, the money for a director would have to come out of the already-stretched city coffers. The puzzle for the Arts, Culture, and Heritage Committee and the City to figure out is how to continue the event while allowing the Committee to work towards its goal of other events and objectives beyond Paint Dexter.

Paint Dexter brings crowds into Dexter and they have fun painting, viewing and purchasing art, mixing with artists, and socializing.

“You can see that they’re just as tickled to be here as we are to have them,” said Councilmember Donna Fisher. “It just takes a lot of work to coordinate and make it happen. I would hate to think that we would lose that by backing off for a time and then try to rebuild. I think we need to keep the momentum and secure what we’ve got. So, I certainly am in favor of supporting its continuance.”

The City Council will continue discussions with the Arts, Culture, and Heritage Committee to see what can be done.


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