The Lexington Avenue Arts and Fun Festival, a beloved downtown Asheville art and music festival held for years on Asheville’s most eclectic downtown street, has been searching for a new identity over the past few years, and now it officially has one.

The Arts 2 People nonprofit that sponsored the original LAAFF has announced that it is rebranding the funky festival, which will now be called “The Living Asheville Arts Festival.” Here’s what that means, according to a press release from Samantha Sax of the Arts 2 People Board of Directors:

Arts 2 People will continue to activate the core values of our organization by working with partners to hold workshops, discussion forums, and interactive activities that promote the social and environmental well being for Asheville’s arts community. By rebranding our event we hope to expand from a general focus on the arts to embody and honor the ways Asheville utilizes creative expression to enhance the natural environment, provide social equity and support healthy lifestyles.

After a solid decade of festival fun, LAAFF reported financial difficulties in 2012. The event was put on hiatus the following year, then returned for 2014. Here are some links for background:

No more LAAFF?

More on LAAFF and financial shortfall

LAAFF leaders asking community to help them re-imagine fest

LAAFF canceled; a return is promised

LAAFF is back in 2014

Here’s the full press release from Sax:

Arts 2 People is a grassroots, community activist, arts and social service organization that has been working in the community on behalf of emerging arts projects for two decades. A2P produced 15 years of LAAFF, and is the group responsible for the popular landmark Lexington Gateway mural at I-240 and Lex, and several other important murals in AVL. Over the years, A2P has moved well over a million dollars around in the community, incubating hundreds of creativity-based businesses and endeavors.

Arts 2 People has exciting news for Asheville! We believe every event should have a purpose and mission behind the gathering. Arts 2 People has been working diligently to revisit the vision and mission of our annual fundraiser, formerly known as LAAFF.

In 2001, LAAFF was created by the artistic minds of business owners and resident artists. What began as a block party in 2001, LAAFF continues to bring significant attention, positive PR, and business to Lexington Ave. by celebrating the arts. The Lexington Avenue Arts and Fun Festival, with great success, has served the mission of Arts 2 People by helping to bring economic development and cultural awareness to one of the great streets of Asheville while incubating hundreds of artists and generating profound economic impact. Throughout the past two years, We have seen the festival grow into an event for locals by locals. This natural progression and growth has lead to a new chapter. The festival created a platform for our local creative community, and now, with your help, we are excited to bring Asheville “The Living Asheville Arts Festival.”

Arts 2 People will continue to activate the core values of our organization by working with partners to hold workshops, discussion forums, and interactive activities that promote the social and environmental well being for Asheville’s arts community. By rebranding our event we hope to expand from a general focus on the arts to embody and honor the ways Asheville utilizes creative expression to enhance the natural environment, provide social equity and support healthy lifestyles.

Arts 2 People is always looking for partners, volunteers, artists, and artist collectives to join us in celebrating Asheville’s local community. And we HIRE! Contact us about production contract opportunities! We are now searching for staff, performers, and new member of our steering committees! A link to the Vendor Application will be available on our Facebook page on Monday, May 2nd.

Funds raised through The Living Asheville Arts Festival support our community building grants program, which has supported fantastic projects like Asheville Grown’s Venture Local Fair, The Asheville Area Arts Council’s Refinery Creator Space, Fox & Beggar Theater’s Tarroco, The Ooh La La Curiosity Market, The American Burlesque and Sideshow Festival, The Authentic Communities Summit, and so much more over our 15 years of success!

Join us in raising funds to support what is unique, special, and IMPORTANT about Asheville’s creative cooperative community and it’s culture!

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