Alaska World Arts Festival kicks off with a welcoming gala

Homer kicked off the fifth year of the Alaska World Arts Festival with an afternoon gala event at the Homer Chamber of Commerce on Thursday, Sept. 7. Executive Director Brad Anderson opened the event by welcoming local residents and visitors to the two-week event and encouraged people to attend the array of arts and performances available through the festival. Features will include all dimension of art: music, dance, theater, film, visual arts, storytelling, literature and comedy.

“From the Chamber’s stand point, what we really love about this is the opportunity to showcase our arts scene in Homer. We have one of the best art scenes in Alaska,” Anderson said. His comment was received by a round of applause from the attendees. Anderson introduced staff and volunteers with the chamber and was followed with comments from Homer Mayor Ken Castner.

“When Nancy and I first moved here 50 years ago, the arts scene was Mary Epperson and whoever she could find to listen to her son play the piano. It has grown leaps and bounds since then. Construction of a performing arts center with the high school was a big move for the town. But, we are now a true arts community and are very proud of it,” Castner said.

Castner referred to the significance of the annual Nutcracker Ballet, now in its 35th year with 75 Homer youth performing in the production.

“Having the theater available has really opened the door for many things. Bringing in talent from out of town and connecting with the larger arts world is a very exciting thing. Thank you every body for contributing what you can to the arts festival,” Castner said.

Castner was followed with a similar brief welcome from Scott Bartlett, executive director of Homer Council on the Arts. He also expressed appreciation for some of the condensed opportunities to experience outside influence over the two weeks of the festival in Homer.

“This festival can provide such a great impact to artists within the community of Homer as we help feed off each other and collaborate through the inspirations of this event,” Bartlett said.

Finally, Anderson welcomed World Arts Festival visionary Sally Oberstein.

Oberstein reinforced the points mentioned by all previous speakers, the role of community and the value of working together. She welcomed all participants to join the features of the Wold Arts Festival in whatever ways they can. Following the Gala, the opening event for the festival was a musical performance with AbbaFab, a group providing tributes to the Stockholm pop music group Abba.

A calendar of remaining events for the festival continuing through Sept. 21 can be found at