Our Mission chang-and-jackson-on-pavilion

FireFish Arts is a non-profit community-based art, civic and economic development initiative working in synergy with diverse community partners and sectors in the city of Lorain and throughout Lorain County.

We come together to create, celebrate, inspire, and be inspired, transforming the downtown Lorain and Black River Landing waterfront experience through the FireFish Festival.


The spark of possibility, transformation, and imagination is the light of FireFish.  

The fish speaks to our deep connection to the water – our Great Lake Erie, the Black River and all of the incredible natural resources in our region.

The fire connects us to our industrial heritage, the steel mills along that waterway, the fire within us all.

The FireFish lights the way to a new future and vision for our city and region — where the arts and artists join with the community to help  lead us into an new era of innovation, creativity and entrepreneurship.

Our History


Fifty years ago, the city of Lorain – on Lake Erie and the Black River’s shores — was at the economic pinnacle of the great post war industrial golden era. Automobiles, steel and ships were generated at a 24/7 pace, downtown’s Broadway Avenue was bustling, and there were jobs for everyone. Then, one after another, came the downturns: recession, bank crisis, real estate crisis, the pull of malls and “big boxes”, the abandonment of mills and factories. The city has lost more than 20% of its population since 1970, and witnessed a steady loss of downtown storefront business during the same period.


Fire Fish Festival

Cited as the latest example of “art as catalyst for civic rebirth” by the Cleveland Plain Dealer editorial board, the first Festival, held September in 2015, drew 10,000 attendees. The excitement of this unique event with its performances in unexpected places and percussion parade culminating in the burning of the ceremonial fish was built upon this year, with extended hours, additional venues, and a wider array of exciting performances, inventive visual art installations; fire performers; and more…transforming Lorain’s downtown urban landscape into a fiery and dynamic artistic experience that engaged all of the senses.

According to Executive Director James Levin, “Our 2016 event was bigger, better and even more exciting than last years’ FireFish Festival, which provided a glimpse of what is possible in the re imagining of downtown Lorain as a dynamic, artistic mecca. Despite being a day full of rain, thousands of visitors were engaged and entranced by extraordinary arts experiences. We hope this highly acclaimed, unforgettable one-of-a-kind annual arts festival will continue to attract thousands of new visitors to this Northeastern Ohio hidden gem on the water.”


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