In an effort to get the community to recognize the role of the arts in our lives and have fun celebrating the 20th Anniversary of Milwaukee High School of the Arts, MHSA Marketing Director Heather Aldrich is spearheading the ExperienceArt 2005 RiverWalk. A two-day extravaganza, the event is drawing support from businesses along the RiverWalk downtown and in the Third Ward, as well as established arts groups in the city. “The arts community has been amazingly supportive, Aldrich said. They see it as an opportunity to highlight both their own offerings and the community benefits of having a school like MHSA. In the business community, executive directors from the Third Ward Association, Milwaukee Downtown, RiverWalk District, and Marcus Center for the Performing Arts have all joined the organizing committee. “When you give people an opportunity to help and be philanthropic they really step up to the plate in this city,” Aldrich said. ExperienceArt, to be held May 21-22 will offer the public an opportunity to work with a range of visual artists and performers to “experience art.” “We really want this to be an interactive festival as much as possible,” Aldrich explained. The arts community will offer workshops on things such as how to be a busker, Fosse dancing, puppet making, metal artistry, and many other pursuits. Budding thespians can try out for a role in West Side Story, to be produced during the festival and presented to the public as the culminating event. Online workshop registration will be provided so attendees can schedule their day. Those who aren’t the participatory type can just sit back and watch the many shows and displays. Boats of all types will be moored along the river, each featuring an entertainment theme ranging from Shakespeare, Gospel Music, Jazz, and others. In celebration of creative writing, one local restaurant will feature a menu of poetic selections as well as poets to write, offering an opportunity for those who need a love sonnet but have been afraid to pen one a chance to pick one up for that Significant Other. Not up for a full literary meal? Grab a Haiku at the hot dog stand. Current MHSA students and alumni will be some of the featured performers, including Samuel Pergande who dances with the Joffrey Ballet, along with his wife Valerie Robins. MHSA is internationally known for its jazz, so you can count on hearing these students jamming, along with Doug Syme, head of the jazz department at MHSA and a well known local musician. The event also offers the opportunity for other arts groups to present themselves to the community and cultivate audiences. “This becomes a promotion for smaller arts organizations,” Aldrich explains, “Their presence will add texture to our event…. We will be putting them all together, offering a chance to promote themselves, and celebrating art.” The scheduling of the program at the end of May coincides with college graduations. Aldrich is hoping to draw families who are in town for commencement to the program, giving Milwaukee’s art scene even broader exposure. And although May is dicey when it comes to weather, the event planners have got that covered. “I’ve met many, many, very gracious building owners who have space available, if the weather is bad,” Aldrich explained. Indoor venues and tents, in addition to the boats, will provide plenty of warmth and cover.