Sewickley Art & Music Festival cut back to one day

Tuesday, June 18, 2019 | 6:00 AM

The Sewickley Art & Music Festival has been cut to one day to appease business owners.

Sewickley council approved Explore Sewickley’s request to close Broad Street on Sept. 27 for the festival during a June 11 meeting. Jennifer Markus, executive director of the nonprofit, said the decision to eliminate the second day represents a compromise with the business community.

Last month, Sewickley business owners addressed council requesting later start times for the 2019 event, citing a decline in retail traffic during festival days.

“I don’t feel like every event that occurs needs to drive retail traffic, but it should also not cause retail traffic to drop 20, 30, 40 percent a day,” said business owner Denise Shirley at a May council meeting. “And that, in a month when you already have the road closed for Harvest Festival, so you’re now taking two Saturdays out of the September month.”

Council approved a 3 to 11 p.m. street closure for the 2019 event, which officially runs from 5 to 10 p.m.

“Since it’s disrupting the street really only one day versus two, the compromise would be to push it back to three … to have enough time to put up the stage and get things ready,” said Mayor Brian Jeffe. “That’s earlier than we had discussed before, and the trade-off being that it’s one day versus two days.”

Alexandra Lancianese, Main Street manager for Explore Sewickley, told council her organization has talked with representatives of the Sewickley Valley Chamber of Commerce and multiple business owners, who have expressed support for the Sept. 27 festival times.

She added that Explore Sewickley is helping business owners drive retail traffic that day.

“We are also encouraging the businesses to be open and have sidewalk sales and do things to encourage foot traffic into their shops,” Lancianese said.

Explore Sewickley announced at the meeting they are moving across the street to 435 Beaver St., which was the first office the organization occupied. Lancianese told the Sewickley Herald the current space at 418 Beaver St. has been on the market since December.

“Although it hasn’t sold yet, we recognized that we would need to move eventually and decided that moving into a smaller office would make sense. Once we learned that the space that we had previously occupied was available, we were just orienting the new board and we felt that it acted like a fresh start for Explore Sewickley,” Lancianese said in an email. “The rent at 435 Beaver St. is less than what we are currently paying, so it also makes sense financially.”

Lancianese told council the move is currently in progress.