David Abbott – Festival of the Arts Blog

Photo credit Mike Buck

I’m David Abbott and I am the Executive Director of Festival of the Arts serving eight counties in Michigan as a regional arts event.

A mentor and former boss, Kathy Crosby began her blog for Goodwill Industries of Greater Grand Rapids in August of 2011 and I learned the value of blogging the mission and musings of life towards growth and change.  Thanks, Kathy for every lesson learned!

My career path includes managing/owning A.K. Rikk’s Menswear, Fund Development for ArtPrize, LaughFest, and Goodwill.  At present, I work fulltime for Live Cardinal/Cardinal Senior Management as an Executive Assistant and they provide me the freedom to do this great work for Festival of the Arts.  I’m fueled by story, friendships, faith, community, and family.

I love Festival!  I love my community!  I love the power of the arts in our life and the transformative power of music, dance, visual arts, poetry and literature, the stage, food and every passion for craft and aesthetic.  I have lived in Grand Rapids for 50 of my 54 years.  So sharing my story today about those 50 years and the incredible feeling of celebrating 50 excites me.    

I turned 50 four years ago and my former partner Dan planned and threw an amazing surprise celebration party for me.  Confession time: I knew about it so it wasn’t much of a surprise in the idea and yet every feeling of the event surprised me with tears of joy and the feelings of abundant love I’m blessed with in this community.  He along with great friends hosted the event in Eastown Antiques and many friends showed up.  The celebration was entitled “David’s Hawaii Five-O,” everyone came dressed in Hawaiian shirts and there was even a Big Wave cake from Cakabakery!  My first boss Mary Ann Maloley from Mary Ann’s Chocolates came and the photo with her reminds me of that great night!  I had new friends there from church, high school, A.K. Rikk’s, ArtPrize, LaughFest, and every corner of my life.  I was overjoyed!

So why this story for the first blog?

It’s about sharing the feeling of OVERJOY!

It’s about the expectation and anticipation of what’s to come in celebrating 50 years of Festival of the Arts next year June 7,8,9! The City of Grand Rapids, Kent County and the other seven counties of the region, Festival of the Arts Board of Directors, Leadership Committee Chair-Persons, and our hundreds of volunteers are gearing up for a great party!  The event includes lots of music, performance, art, food, and fun for kids and families.  Many of you have been a part of Festival’s 50 years by singing on Calder Stage, volunteering with co-workers and friends, exhibiting your artwork in the Regional Arts Show, listening to a band in Outer Fringe, watching your child build a sculpture in Glue-In or paint a landscape in Paint-In, and so much more.  Those memories invite you to come back and enjoy the feeling of being overjoyed!

Mary Ann called me when she heard the announcement of my new role as Executive Director.  She said, “David, I am so proud of you for serving Festival of the Arts.  Sometimes old things get forgotten and I know you will make sure we remember how great Festival is for the community.”  Her faith in my ability and her love for Festival of the Arts truly touched me.  Trust me, Mary Ann.  Festival’s age provides a legacy and of course, it won’t be forgotten because the party planning is just beginning.

We so look forward to you attending the party!  See close friends and bring some new ones to the event.  Get back in touch with all that the arts have given our community.  Having Grand Rapids Ballet Executive Director, Glenn Del Vecchio and Creative Director James Sofranko serving as Honorary Co-Chairs have all the arts organizations working with us on the celebration.

I am a sucker for celebration!  I hear the Kool & the Gang’s “Celebrate Your Time C’Mon!” over the speaker at a wedding and I am on the dance floor!  It’s a celebration of love that fuels each of us and we are blessed to have Festival of the Arts to bring us back year after year to that love of the arts.


Please consider subscribing to David’s Festival Blog and I will do my best to add a laugh, touch a memory, promote a friend and maybe even spark some learning.