After last month’s hiatus, First Fridays Art Walk will again take place this Friday. Many people have concerns as to the safety and walkability of the event amide recent upswings in attendance, largely from teens across the area. What steps have been taken to ensure that the event doesn’t lose its artistic appeal?
First Fridays Art Walk will officially resume tomorrow, October 7th, and will begin the local art walk’s 11th season. This event comes after various crowd-related issues that made many wary of attending the previous months.
In a press release to the media, Christina Newton, Director of Curated Culture, the organization that produces the monthly event, said, “Our goal for First Fridays has always been to support the organizations and businesses that make Downtown so unique.” She went on to say: “First Fridays is about making arts and culture accessible and inviting, but it’s also about encouraging sales and donations in order to keep business alive in Downtown. The activities that have occurred along Broad Street are inviting and fun, but have moved the program away from its mission and have unfortunately impacted public safety.”
Issues of public safety arose during the summer months, as an influx of teens attended the event. As a result of both the increased size of the crowds, and the ages of the patrons, arrests became commonplace.
To help deter undesirable behavior, participating venues have agreed not to host entertainment or activities that would stall pedestrian traffic. This includes playing music (both live bands and recordings) and sidewalk vendors. Both coordinators and venues hope that these measures will reduce sidewalk noise and congestion. In addition, the City has a new noise ordinance that police can use to enforce proper volumes in public.
First Fridays now encompasses over 40 creative venues Downtown. Last year, the art walk brought nearly 100,000 visitors to the stretch of Broad between Belvidere and 9th streets in historic Jackson Ward and Monroe Ward.
Newton hopes that a reinvigorated First Fridays event will do well to uphold the original purpose of the eleven-year-old event. “We work hard to help drive traffic into the spaces that make up our creative community.”
The art walk will run from 5pm – 9pm.