Its been ten years since Downtown hosted the first Art Walk. While its grown and evolved since its inception, theyve stayed true to the basic premise: art displayed throughout Downtown, where people walk through on a self-guided tour. Downtown Vision, Inc., which produces our First Wednesday Art Walk, is looking for ways to further improve the Art Walk experience in 2013.
DVI acknowledges that although the basic model of Art Walk works, they want to do more this year. [Art Walk] continues to capture the creative spirit of the community and bring thousands of people Downtown each month, says DVI Executive Director Terry Lorince. But to keep it fresh, we feel its time it inject a bit more energy and enthusiasm into the event to offer our regular attendees something new, while bringing in an entirely new audience.
The Art Walk has already come a long way since 2003. Only about a dozen businesses and art galleries participated in the very first Art Walk, but today up to 40 venues are part of Art Walk. Youll find craft vendors, musicians, performance artists and art co-ops, as well as more traditional art at established galleries. In 2010 they introduced Off the Grid, wherein DVI partnered with the Cultural Council to help connect local artists and Downtown property owners. The owners needed exposure for their empty, unrented spaces, and the artists needed a free or cheap exhibition space.
Art Walks current improvement is their new mobile app. Theyre simplifying the printed map which DVI says will identify locations of venues; list only a small number of selected highlights from venues participating in the theme; and direct people to the mobile website for full information. The social-media savvy amongst Art Walk aficionados already rely on Facebook posts and Twitter feeds, but because there are so many scattered places to get the info, DVI wants to have it all in one place.
Printing deadlines can limit the information available, says Katherine Hardwick, DVIs Director of Marketing, but with the mobile app we can continue to add information and events right up to the last minute.
The majority of the 2013 improvements will be guided by a DVI survey. If youd like to be part of it, go to www.downtownjacksonville.org, click Events & Marketing and choose the First Wednesday Art Walk tab. You can weigh-in on issues such as parking, street performers, music, vendors, retail, food availability, activities for kids and more. The survey goes beyond multiple choice by giving you space to share your favorite Art Walk experience and make recommendations. Results of the survey will be reviewed by an Art Walk committee of a dozen local downtown supporters and activists. The committee will then recommend expansions and improvements. The survey will be open through the end of January 2013.
According to Hardwick, preliminary results of the survey indicate a real interest in food. This might take the form of anything from cart vendors or pop-up restaurants to a higher presence of food trucks. Its still in committee, of course, and DVI hasnt pledged themselves to anything specific yet, but do expect that Art Walk 2013 will be better than ever!
The themes for the next four Art Walks will be: January: Fresh stART (Happy New Year!), February: Draw your heART out (Artists work on site), March: Artsy Ambition (Young Professionals), April: Earth without ART is EH (Art Walk goes Green)
By Erin Thursby, photos by Dennis Ho
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