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Inagural Summer of Love and Community Connection set for Saturday at Penn Park


Saturday will be a festive day at Penn Park on Madison’s south side where organizers of the inaugural Summer of Love and Community Connection are looking to “engage your creative mind, move your body, and lift your spirit” with a variety of local artists leading workshops and classes for kids, teens, and adults throughout the day.

“I believe that arts are a powerful way for people to connect and build power through community,” Stephanie Richards of Swing State Aerial tells Madison365. “It should be a really fun day. We are looking forward to the event.”

Richards and Francis Medrano of Black Power Dance are part of Oiñ Productions who will be hosting the inaugural “Summer of Love” event at Penn Park on Saturday, Aug. 27, 10 a.m.-2 p.m.

Stephanie Richards

The event will provide arts, exercise, and connections to support community healing for the whole family.

“It’s an arts and wellness event. We’re trying to bring opportunities to the community to connect through the arts … specifically dance and music and singing,” Richards says.

Francis Medrano

“It’s a great opportunity for kids and families to enjoy art, to dance, to hear music, to paint, to exercise. Through the art, we connect ourselves with our community, and through dance and movement and the arts, people find connections and healing through those connections,” Medrano adds.

Summer of Love will be free for the community thanks to event sponsors that include Dane Arts, Madison Arts Commission, Centro Hispano, and Madison Pro Audio. WORT is the media sponsor.

“Centro is excited to come on board with the vision of Oiñ – we treasure spaces that create healing through movement and creative self-expression, especially when they center communities that have been so silenced,” says Karen Menéndez-Coller, executive director of Centro Hispano, in a statement. “We’re hoping everyone comes out to celebrate with love and appreciation for what this city could be.” 

Richards says that they have designed a continuous day of three 45-minute workshops  (see below) taking place for kids, teens, and for adults. 


Dane Arts is also a proud sponsor of the event. “To produce what I call a spARTS (sports and arts) celebration of the highest artistic merit, it is a joy to see the scale of artistry, the depth of diversity, and the deliberate attention to community by the artists involved,” says Mark Fraire, director of Dane Arts.  

Karin Wolf, Arts Program Administrator for the City of Madison, says in a statement that the City is happy to be able to support this project and is particularly excited that the organizers have planned this event at Penn Park. “The South Madison plan called for more investment in the strong pride and culture of South Madison,” Wolf says. “What better way to engage with and celebrate the community, than through the emotional, physical, and cognitive processes involved in dance and movement?”

“We’re super excited to be on the south side,” Richards says. “We know that so much happens on places like the east side where I live, but we really wanted to do this in communities where there’s just not quite as much arts happening and we wanted it to be multicultural so that it really could be a place of connection for people across backgrounds.”

Summer of Love will feature workshops in dance, music, and circus arts presented by the following teaching artists: 

  • Madison Rueda – Rueda de Casino
  • Saralita Marie & Saúl Naxi – Cumbia Poblana

    Janet Gomez
  • Barrio Dance – Musical Theatre Dance
  • Danielle Lee – Hula Hooping
  • Francis Medrano – Power Dance
  • Stephanie Richards – Aerial Silks
  • Richard Hildner – Peruvian Percussion
  • Yorel Lashley – West African Drumming
  • Luis Armacanqui – Latin Partner Dance
  • Papa-Kobina Brewoo – Street Dance
  • Brendan Loula – Capoeira
  • Janet Gomez – Zumba
  • Natalia Armacanqui – Kathak Dance

Next year, “Summer of Love” is looking to expand this inaugural event to multiple dates and parks across Madison.

“We’re really using this event as a pilot with hopes of building it bigger for next year and taking it to other parks around Madison but really focusing on areas like the south, southwest, and maybe north sides of towns … really focusing on where there’s a lot of people who speak Spanish, there’s a lot of African American people … where there is greater diversity,” Richards says. 

“So the hope is that this year is a big push to make something beautiful happen and then we’ll spread the word and make more events next year,” she adds.