The mission of the Central Pennsylvania Festival of the Arts™ is to celebrate the arts with presentations of diverse, high-quality visual and performing arts through the cooperative volunteer support of the community and The Pennsylvania State University. The essence of this organization is the enrichment and education of the audience, grounded in personal interaction between artist and audience.
To many people the Central Pennsylvania Festival of the Arts (the Festival, or CPFA) is something that “just happens” each summer. School lets out for the summer, and in what seems like the blink of an eye, the Festival is upon us. Landscapers, stage hands, musicians, artists, and volunteers all appear – and in their wake both State College and the Penn State campus are alive with visitors. Approximately 125,000 people visit the Festival each year.
Of course, the Festival, doesn’t “just happen”. It’s the result of a lot of hard work by more than a few people.
Founded in 1967 by the State College Chamber of Commerce and Penn State University’s College of Arts and Architecture in an effort to bring the arts and commerce to the area, the CPFA is an independent, not-for-profit corporation.
In the years since the first festival, it has evolved to encompass the Sidewalk Sale and Exhibition, performances on outdoor and indoor stages, a banner competition, Children & Youth Day, a juried gallery exhibition, and the Italian Street Painting Festival. The Festival assists the Nittany Valley Running Club in presenting the Sue Crowe Memorial Arts Festival Races, and Schlow Centre Region Library in presenting BookFest.
A volunteer Board of Directors of representatives of the State College and Penn State communities establishes Festival policy. There are three full-time professional staff members. More than 500 volunteers help make the Festival a reality each year.
CPFA also produces First Night State College, an arts-centric, family oriented, alcohol-free celebration of the New Year’s holiday. First Night State College features one of Pennsylvania’s largest displays of ice carving, performances in downtown churches, theaters, and public buildings, resolution sculptures, a giant puppet procession, children’s activities, and a 5k Resolution Run.
CPFA receives state arts funding support through a grant from the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, a state agency funded by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the National Endowment for the Arts, a federal agency. Additional funding is provided through a grant made by possible by the Central Pennsylvania Convention and Visitors’ Bureau and the Centre County Commissioners.