Ask anyone involved in the arts in some way, shape or form about the importance of local arts and entertainment, and they will speak until they’re blue in the face. Fortunately, that is not what I’m here to do. Rather, I’d like to showcase some of Erie’s less well-known attractions and best-kept secrets for your next night off. Whether you are an actor, poet, musician or comedian, you would be hard-pressed to find a more fitting environment for the performer than any of these venues.
Now running their 2014 campaign, Erie Arts & Culture has an incredible amount of pull and responsibility in helping to fund many of the “well-known” attractions across the city. Destinations like the Erie Art Museum are popular for both adults and children on school field trips alike. (It doesn’t hurt that it’s local to Gannon students, either.) The Erie Philharmonic presents the most musically inclined minds of Erie, while the Erie Playhouse produces all kinds of shows in order to quench a thirst for theater. Did you know we have another nonprofit theater company within walking distance of the university? Dramashop is located on 1001 State Street, and features contributions from our fearless leader at Edge, Zach Flock.
Yet another local entertainment center located on State Street is Basement Transmissions, one of Erie’s only remaining venues for all-ages. Every weekend, you can catch a glimpse of Erie’s up-and-coming punk, hardcore, indie or hip-hop acts. Founded by Erie local Rob Jensen, the venue is almost completely run by its surrounding community, who are often times dedicated kids and aging punk-rockers who merely want to spread word through the community.
Perhaps my favorite part of every week happened at Fridays at 9:00 p.m. last semester– open mic at the Erie Poet’s Hall. (Special thanks to Daniel Maynard for introducing me.) The International Fellowship of Poets and Spoken Word Artists is located at 1136 East Lake Road. Every Friday night, a featured poet takes the stand, followed by anyone who signs up at the door. It is here that I developed an appreciation for some of Erie’s most incredible local talent and beautiful artists. A fishbowl is staged at the door for donations, but admittance is completely free. It is a worthwhile experience for anyone with an appreciation for the arts and freedom of expression.
Although I have hardly touched the number of artists and entertainers who perform sporadically throughout the city, I hope I have at least been able to bring several of these excellent venues to the attention of the right people.