READING, PA (June 17, 2015) – Adding to the growing momentum of activity in downtown Reading, three free concerts featuring nationally-touring acts will perform on Penn Street between August and October as part of the new Downtown Alive performance series.

Each concert will feature a festival atmosphere and include food trucks and a beer garden.

The three acts are Striking Matches, a country music duo regularly featured on the television show Nashville; Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness, a singer/songwriter who previously was with the bands Something Corporate and Jack’s Mannequin; and Gin Blossoms, a rock band known for its hits “Hey Jealousy,” “Found Out About You,” “Til I Hear It from You,” and “Follow You Down.”

“The goal of the concerts is to add to a lively atmosphere that is growing downtown,” said Heidi Williamson, vice president for programs and initiatives at Berks County Community Foundation.

The Community Foundation is providing $100,000 from the Hawley and Myrtle Quier Fund to support the series. The Community Foundation’s board of directors also approved an additional $50,000 last week for the second Reading Fire + Ice Fest to be held Jan. 15-17, 2016.

“With the fantastic success of the Reading Fire + Ice Fest that we sponsored this past winter, we’ve begun to see real momentum downtown,” said Jason Brudereck, the Community Foundation’s director of communication. “We have been funding and supporting many downtown initiatives, such as ReDesign Reading’s Reading Bike Hub and Penn Street Market. ReDesign Reading is also a driving force behind bringing back a bicycle race to downtown this September.”

The Community Foundation has for years been studying how other cities have made their downtowns more vibrant.

“We discovered that the blueprint is surprisingly simple,” Brudereck said. “In all of the communities that we visited and that have successfully overcome issues that mirror ours in Reading, they have pursued the same strategy: Stage events to showcase how vibrant the urban core can be and then watch as private investment flows in to capitalize on the increased foot traffic and interest in downtown.”

“We have several other upcoming initiatives, such as the staging of a full-length musical on Penn Square,” Brudereck continued. “We’ll provide more details on that in the coming weeks, but these efforts will show how vibrant downtown can be.”

The new concert series is the result of a partnership between the Community Foundation, the Reading Downtown Improvement District (DID) and the SMG-managed Santander Arena.

“These concerts will help support our downtown businesses and hopefully will generate interest among new businesses looking to locate in center city,” said Charles R. Broad, DID executive director.

“The quality of these acts for free concerts is exceptional,” said David G. Farrar, general manager of the Santander Arena. “These performers sell out venues all over the country, but we’re bringing them to Berks County for everyone to enjoy.”

Schedule:

•    Aug. 5, 5 p.m. to 8 p.m.: Striking Matches, 500 block of Penn Street.
•    Sept. 23, 5 p.m. to 8 p.m.: Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness, 500 block of Penn Street.
•    Oct. 24, 4 p.m. to 6 p.m.: Gin Blossoms, 700 block of Penn Street.

The final concert will also serve as a kickoff to the Reading Royals hockey season, which begins that night at the Santander Arena.

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Berks County Community Foundation is a nonprofit corporation that serves as a civic leader for our region by developing, managing and distributing funds to meet existing and emerging community needs. More information is available at www.bccf.org.

The Reading Downtown Improvement District is focused on creating a vital, productive and commercially active environment in downtown Reading. DID provides cleaning, security and marketing services for a specially designated commercial district in the city, and also sponsors several events and activities throughout the year, including MidDay Cafes and the Reading Holiday Parade. DID continually strives to make downtown Reading a cleaner, safer and more inviting place to live, work and visit. For more information, go to www.downtownreading.com.