Witching Hour 2021 to bring creative experience for artists and audiences

The annual art festival, hosted by the Englert Theatre and Little Village Magazine, fosters creativity and encourage community interaction through several artistic avenues on Nov. 5-6.


Wyatt Dlouhy

Here Lies Man performs at Gabe’s as part of the Witching Hour Festival on Friday, October 12, 2018. Former member of Afrobeat collective Antibalas, Marcos Garcia released his first project for Here Lies Man in 2017.

Olivia Augustine, Arts Reporter

Ever been curious about the creative processes behind fascinating artwork, or wanted to explore art and its messages from start to finish? The annual Witching Hour Festival invites the community to do just that in its unique festival experience.

This year’s Witching Hour Festival, hosted by Englert Theatre and Little Village Magazine, will be Nov. 5 and 6. The festival will feature all types of art, from music, to literature, to visual art, and heavily encourage audience interaction.

Genevieve Trainor, the arts editor of Little Village Magazine, said that Witching Hour is a great opportunity to expose people to new work and involve the community in the process.

“Exploring art is always a wonderful thing, but we don’t get as many chances to sort of talk about art, and to talk about why it matters and how the community fits in,” Trainor said. “I think it’s important for the community to realize that they are a part of the process as well.”

This year, American sound composer Tim Story’s exhibit “Mobius Strips will premiere at the festival — its first stop on a chain of exhibitions around the world. The interactive sonic sculpture creates a musical experience determined by the audience’s interaction with the piece.

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John Schickedanz, executive director of the Englert Theatre, said the “Mobius Strips exhibit is creating “national buzz” for Witching Hour.

In addition to its invitation to the community to participate, the Witching Hour is set apart from other festivals by the various avenues of art it displays.

Schickedanz said, in contrast to other festivals, viewers will get more than just a musical experience.

“You buy in at one ticket price and invest in this art, and you’re basically just bombarded with different types of art over the weekend,” Schickedanz said. “You’re getting the exhibits where you can walk through and actually interact with them, you’re getting music, you’re getting literature — all of it.”

Primarily housed in the Englert, the festival will also take place around the city, including at Gabe’s, the Chauncey, and the University of Iowa Main Library Galleries.

Schickedanz said pairing performers with places is a complex process.

“We’re really lucky to have partners around town that put on this festival with us,” he said. “We think that that’s a really special part of, really both of our festivals, is having it inside of all of these other venues, which is really unique and cool.”

Accessibility is a large concern for those at the Englert and at Little Village, as the two share the belief that art should be available to everyone. The festival therefore provides a pay-what-you can option, in addition to the general and student two-day passes.

Some online and streaming options will be available for those with health concerns. For the first time, the festival will also have an American Sign Language interpreter at most of its events.

Schickedanz said he looks forward to seeing musical artist Tasha, who played summer sessions for the Englert Theatre’s Mission Creek Festival, and the Writers of Color reading series. More information on the artists and itinerary can be found on the Witching Hour Festival’s website.