NEPA Scene Staff

F.M. Kirby Fest fundraiser for Kirby Center in Wilkes-Barre canceled, online auction coming up on June 30

F.M. Kirby Fest fundraiser for Kirby Center in Wilkes-Barre canceled, online auction coming up on June 30
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From a press release:

Today, the F.M. Kirby Center for the Performing Arts in Wilkes-Barre announced the cancellation of its annual fundraiser, F.M. Kirby Fest, which was rescheduled to July 11 due to the coronavirus pandemic. Unfortunately, with social distancing concerns, the event will not be possible this year.

The original date of the fourth annual event was slated for April 18. Instead, there will be a F.M. Kirby Fest next year in April.

All proceeds of the fundraiser benefit the arts and education programs and community outreach programs at the Kirby Center.

“With the new restrictions prohibiting gatherings of 250 people, we had to search for alternatives in order to host the fundraiser. We spoke with state officials and also considered hosting the event outside on Public Square. Unfortunately, these options are not realistic for us,” Director of Development Joell Yarmel said.

“The beauty of Kirby Fest is to enjoy all areas of the building, sample local treats, listen to great music, and look at beautiful art. This fundraiser benefits so many within our community, and it wouldn’t serve its purpose with the restrictions in place.”

All ticket buyers are encouraged to convert their purchase to a much-needed donation to the F.M. Kirby Center. Call the box office at 570-826-1100 if a refund is required.

This week, the Kirby Center also announced an online photo auction of prints taken by local photographers and shot at the historic downtown Wilkes-Barre venue.

The auction will take place on the Kirby Center Facebook page on Tuesday, June 30 at 10 a.m. through Thursday, July 2 at 8 p.m. All proceeds from this fundraiser will be split between the photographers and the Kirby Center.

The auction will feature photos from big-name artists who have visited the F.M. Kirby Center, such as Jason Isbell, Alice Cooper, Greta Van Fleet, and more, as well as shots of the building itself. The photos have been taken by Northeastern Pennsylvania photographers such as Brittany Boote, Scott Kucharski, and Jerry Hylan, including some photos taken for NEPA Scene.

The silent auction will take place in a Facebook event page on the Kirby Center page. The photos up for auction will be available to see there this weekend, and bidding will begin on Tuesday, June 30.

“Live entertainment has a magical air surrounding it,” said Artistic Director Anne Rodella, “a moment in time that you experience only with the people at the event. Wilkes-Barre and the F.M. Kirby Center are lucky to be surrounded by talented photographers who capture that magical feeling in pictures. Over the years, those photographers have become our friends. We are thrilled to work on this project and support our friends who have long supported us.”

As an independent performing arts venue that has been closed since March, the F.M. Kirby Center is one of nearly 2,000 members of the National Independent Venue Association, formed at the onset of the COVID-19 shutdown; other local members include Stage West in Scranton and State College, the Sherman Theater in Stroudsburg, and ArtsQuest’s Musikfest Cafe and Levitt Pavilion at the SteelStacks in Bethlehem, as well as festivals like the Briggs Farm Blues Festival and Musikfest. When surveyed, 90 percent of NIVA members said they will be forced to shutter forever if the shutdown lasts six months or longer and there’s no federal support.

Read NIVA’s facts on the industry and proposal to save independent music venues here and support legislation by filling out a short form at

Watch Episode 132 of the NEPA Scene Podcast, a coronavirus shutdown panel discussion recorded at the onset of the pandemic in the area that includes Anne Rodella, Wilkes-Barre singer/songwriter Dustin Douglas, and Scranton Fringe Festival Executive Director Conor Kelly O’Brien, below:

Photo by Rich Howells/NEPA Scene