BY JOHN FLEMING
Times Performing Arts Critic
Fittingly, the Tarpon Springs Summer Solstice Festival of the Performing Arts will open and close with events that celebrate Greek culture.
"We try to represent the community, and our Greek heritage is something that is unique to Tarpon Springs,'' said Kathleen Monahan, director of the city's cultural and civic services department.
The festival, new this year, begins Saturday night with Greek music by the trio Ellada on the Sponge Docks. It winds up Aug. 1 with the Greek dance troupe Levendia at the Tarpon Springs Performing Arts Center.
The festival features 14 presentations in all, including acoustic guitarists Alex de Grassi and Richard Gilewitz, Mike Jurgensen's folk music trio, theater productions of David Ives' All in the Timing and the musical Oliver!, comedian and storyteller Suzanne Ruley, the Flamenco Puro ensemble, a concert by Lauren Weber and Constantine Grame of 19th century patriotic songs, Bay Baroque and more, all spread among a half-dozen venues.
"We tried to model the festival a little bit after the Savannah Music Festival, which has an eclectic flair,'' said Monahan, who would like to add a visual arts component next summer. Marketing has been aided by a $66,000 grant from the Pinellas Convention and Visitors Bureau that allowed the festival to target potential audiences in Hillsborough, Pasco, Citrus, Hernando and Manatee counties, as well as elsewhere in Florida.
"We're getting quite a few inquiries,'' Monahan said last week. "I think the marketing is going to have a good effect in drawing people here in the off season.''
John Fleming can be reached at email@example.com or (727) 893-8716.