In the Madison region, there are lots of summertime arts options.

Art fairs, concerts and theater abound. Much of it outdoors.

But as you’re making plans between now and Labor Day, don’t overlook what’s within walking distance, or at the most a short drive away.

In Cambridge and Deerfield this summer, three theater groups are staging three beloved musicals: Mary Poppins, Beauty & the Beast and Peter Pan. Hundreds of local actors of all ages are getting ready for those shows with First Wing Family Theatre and Cambridge Deerfield Players Theater.

Cambridge and Deerfield each have an outdoor summer concert series, with picnicking in the park. In all, nine musical groups will perform, most with local ties.

And Midwest Fire Fest is coming up in Cambridge in July, with a full weekend of artists working in pottery, glass, iron and other mediums. The festival includes a chef-cooked farm-to-fork meal, fire dancers, live music and a nighttime unveiling of a 7-foot-tall wood-fire sculpture.

Amid all this, the Cambridge School District is making significant strides toward an April 2020 referendum for a high school performing arts center. If constructed, it could be a game-changer, bringing Cambridge in line with most other Madison-area school districts that already have such facilities.

There’s ample research on how the arts benefit school kids.

The arts are also an economic driver – the Cambridge Arts Council says that right in its mission statement – drawing visitors to our downtowns. Midwest Fire Fest, alone, is expected to bring up to 5,000 visitors to downtown Cambridge.

Arts events are also a chance to shine before friends and family.

At summer concerts, local musicians get a chance to play near home. And our theater groups get local adult and youth actors on stage – many for the first time — and give others a chance to build sets, run lights and sound, provide musical accompaniment and direct.

The Cambridge News and Deerfield Independent printed a 4-page 2019 Summer Arts Guide in our May 16 paper. It contains everything you need to know about local theater and outdoor concerts this summer, and about Midwest Fire Fest. If you missed it, the guide and accompanying podcasts are on our website:

This summer, support the arts locally. In the end, we all benefit.

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