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Area students help keep blues & jazz alive – and free

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

The Mercyhurst University Quickstarter Program is leading a crowdfunding campaign to support one of the region’s biggest summer parties, the Erie Art Museum Blues & Jazz Festival, to be held Aug. 4-6 in Frontier Park. Now in its 25th year, organizers are committed to keeping this family-friendly festival free for all.

The project, led by Mercyhurst Intelligence Studies Associate Professor Kristan Wheaton, went live on the Kickstarter platform Tuesday, July 11, as part of a noon-hour launch party at the Erie Art Museum.

By 3 p.m., the project had already garnered 49 backers and raised more than $3,000 of its $5,000 goal.

“Obviously we are excited with the eager reception, but we hope to raise as much as possible in the next 17 days to make this year’s festival truly outstanding,” Wheaton said.

Backers of this year’s crowdfunding effort can look forward to a wide variety of rewards, many of which will only be available through Kickstarter. For example, one reward, the Endless Water Koozy, allows the backer to simply present the koozy and get free bottles of ice cold water all weekend long. Other awards include posters signed by Erie Art Museum Director Emeritus John Vanco as well as passes to the sponsor tent.

“We wanted our rewards to make the experience of the Erie Art Museum Blues & Jazz Festival something special for all our Kickstarter backers,” said Emily Dauber, Erie Art Museum project manager and producer for this year’s festival. “It costs a lot to keep the festival free and we believe that the people who back our Kickstarter project deserve real rewards for their willingness to step up and help.”

As part of his Quickstarter initiative, Wheaton brings together talented students from all of the area universities to help create the campaigns. Among those working on this one is Colleen Dougan of Mercyhurst, project manager; Penn State Behrend student Guinevere Pierce; and Edinboro University students Quinn Thompson, Jacob William Poteet, Megan Fisher Ciafre and Michael Lin.

The Mercyhurst Quickstarter projects are funded through several agents, among them Mercyhurst University Academic Enrichment Grants, Ben Franklin Technology Partners and the Erie County Gaming Revenue Authority’s Ignite Erie: Industry-University Business Acceleration Collaborative, led by Mercyhurst and Penn State Behrend.