‘Expo ’79: Art/Music’ from the Early Renaissance in Lowell

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Here’s a throwback thing to the pioneer days of festival-making in Renaissance Lowell. This was “Expo ’79, Art/Music” at Lowell Memorial Auditorium. Lowell CityFair was part of the federal jobs program (imagine that) called C.E.T.A. (Comprehensive Employment and Training Act) wherein a dozen or so Lowell artists were hired to perform, teach, lead workshops, do their own art, etc. CityFair was the centerpiece of this festival, which also featured the Boston Ballet (Company Too), Pocket Mime Theatre, UMass Lowell Studio Orchestra, Lowell High Choir/Chorus, Leif Anderson Dance Studio, La Tuna of Lowell (Spanish song and dance), and more. My friend John Leite was featured, directing Leite Concert Winds. The ballet and mime were ticketed but all else was free.

Sponsors included Human Services Corporation of Lowell, Mass. Cultural Council, Mobil Oil Foundation, Lowell Hist. Pres. Commission, National Park Service, and Lowell Musicians Assoc., Local 83 AFM.

The two-day “Expo” was part of Lowell Historic Preservation Week in May 1979, which also offered the March of Dimes Heritage Walk, a Main Street Revitalization Seminar with speaker Kathryn Welch of the National Trust for Historic Preservation (at A. G. Pollard’s Restaurant), a workshop on Community Preservation Techniques led by Welch, plus an exhibition about Governor and General Benjamin F. Butler produced by the Lowell Museum. Of note were the various adaptive reuse and renovation construction projects going on downtown thanks to the Lowell Heritage State Park, Lowell Development & Financial Corp., and City of Lowell Facade Grant Program.

This was a strong blend of local and guest artists and groups.