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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Foray for the Arts presents ‘The Light: A Sunset Reading for Conservation’

By Cindy Hval For The Spokesman-Review

Music, cider and readings by area poets and writers, paired with panoramic views of the Saltese Uplands Conservation Area offer an inspirational way to welcome summer.

On Wednesday, Foray for the Arts will host “The Light: A Sunset Reading for Conservation.”

The new arts organization is the creation of Greg Bem and Sarah Rooney.

When Bem moved here from Seattle in August to accept a job as a librarian at Spokane Community College, he said he was delighted to engage with so many writers and artists in the area.

“I saw there was plenty of room to grow when it comes to more experiential events and venues,” he said.

Likewise, Rooney, who’s earning her MFA at Eastern Washington University, looked for a way to facilitate more poetry events. She has hosted open mic night at Bijou on the South Hill for two years but wanted to include other neighborhoods.

“I talked to Sharma Shields about a poetry workshop at the library and she put me in touch with Greg,” Rooney said.

And Foray for the Arts was born.

“Our goal is to create monthly multidisciplinary arts events across town,” Bem said.

The organization is highlighting comedians, poets, storytellers and artists in varying locations, offering a chance for local businesses to shine while giving a platform to the arts community.

“We’re hoping to include dancers and photography, too,” he said.

Launching a grassroots arts organization to offer free events to the community isn’t for the faint of heart.

“We had our performers all lined up for our first event in January and the venue fell through!” Rooney said. “We pivoted and Natural 20 Brewing hosted it.”

Foray for the Arts has also presented events at pizzerias and tea shops.

“We intentionally include different neighborhoods,” Bem said. “And all of our events are free of charge.”

Wednesday’s performance marks a first for them.

“It’s our first outdoor event,” Bem said. ” ‘The Light’ is more of a literary event. We’ll be thinking about climate, and ecology and have open conversations regarding our roles in regards to the natural world.”

The event features the music of Liz Rognes and complimentary cider will be provided by Trailbreaker Cider.

Presenters include spoken word artist AP Marcus, Washington state Book Award-winner and Eastern Washington University professor Paul Lindholt, and Charles Potts from Walla Walla. Potts was honored by the Washington Poets Association with a Lifetime Achievement Award in 2008.

Next month, Foray for the Arts will host a Monroe Street Lit Crawl that will include stops at Bellwether Brewing and Lunarium.

“We want to enrich the creative scene,” Rooney said.

Bem agreed.

“Spokane is a crossroads of many types of people and cultures,” he said. “The arts community is open to diverse, engaging experiences. We want to feature unique, sometimes weird events that are memorable and impactful.”

Contact Cindy Hval at