Wheaton Arts Parade
The mission of Wheaton Arts Parade (WAP) is to bring the Wheaton community together with art and to celebrate Wheaton’s local artists and diverse cultures. WAP activities take place in the Wheaton Urban District and surrounding communities but involve artists from all over Montgomery County. The WAP calendar revolves around the annual Wheaton Arts Parade & Festival that takes place in late September. The Wheaton Arts Parade & Festival is a day for citizens, artists, businesses, and civic organizations to come together, walking to celebrate art and the Wheaton community. At the end of this March for Art, the community gathers at a festival to continue the celebration. The day is inspired by the parade and the closure of roadways to motor vehicles so that people can walk and dance, play music and show off their art. The parade liberates the community’s creative spirit from the confines of everyday life. Freed from their cars, people can appreciate Wheaton at a slower pace, as a walkable community. The highway becomes a path toward creativity and the arts parade calls the community to follow. The parade leads to a festival that continues the celebration of art and Wheaton’s diversity. It is a time to gather in one place and eat together, to listen to music and readings, watch dance, view paintings and sculpture, to talk to each other and even make art. It is a chance for artists to exhibit and sell their work, but most importantly it is a time for local artists to be appreciated by the community and each other and for the community to see Wheaton’s potential as an arts destination. Through the parade and festival, WAP has demonstrated its ability to mobilize local artists and to conduct community art activities. This led to an invitation from Westfield Wheaton, first to conduct pop-up art activities in the mall, and then to turn a vacant storefront into an art gallery. The WAP Gallery has been operating continuously since January 2018, exhibiting paintings, photographs, and sculpture of more than 20 Montgomery County artists and returning 90% of all sales proceeds to the artists who also volunteer to help manage the gallery. Westfield Wheaton also has provided WAP with workspace known as the Art Factory where WAP constructs and stores its floats, where it conducts summer workshops, and where it convenes meetings of artists and community organizations. In 2019, with support from the AHCMC, WAP launched two community art workshops that worked for more than 10 weeks in partnership with the Montgomery Housing Partnership and the Arcola Elementary School to bring members of Wheaton’s Spanish-speaking community together to make 2 large, 3-paneled mosaics. The partner organizations provided outreach to the community and a place to hold the workshops. Before these mosaics are permanently installed in the community they will be displayed at the WAP festival for the entire Wheaton community to appreciate. workshop artists and the community participants will march in the parade. In bringing the Wheaton community together to make art, WAP has help assemble Latinx artists from the Wheaton area. Throughout the summer, members of this group have held “knitting sessions” at parks, in the mall, and at the Art Factory to create the elements of a Yarn Bomb that will decorate lamp posts and tree along this year’s parade route.