A new event in Downtown Blackstone, VA has helped to transform the historic business district into a walkable art gallery, allowing residents and visitors alike to peruse the wares of traditional and contemporary artists and take in the charm of this small town as they visit local shops and restaurants. Organized by In Town Art, a local art gallery and studio, and supported by Downtown Blackstone, Inc. (DBI), the Second Saturday Art Walk has encouraged community members to support small businesses and creatives!
Blackstone’s Second Saturday Art Walk, like other art walks, serves as an organized and regularly occurring event, wherein multiple businesses, galleries and other venues host artists and displays of their artwork, typically for purchase to the public. While similar to a pop-up shop, an important distinction is that this event is a tour – or walk – of an assortment of merchants and artisans coordinated at multiple venues in a given area, and attendees can discover art created right in town while enjoying the wide variety of commerce that flourishes in downtown. On top of that, Blackstone’s Art Walk is also accompanied by live music, additional entertainment and other activities, adding even more excitement and intrigue to the event.
Blackstone’s Second Saturday Art Walk is an example of what all communities can do to create a unifying and community-building exhibition that boosts the visibility of artists, stimulates local economic activity, and contributes to an enriched neighborhood culture overall. Apart from creating a time to highlight partnering businesses and showcase new products or sales events in the district, emerging and seasoned artists alike can enter the public sphere to share their inspirations and promote their work. Most excitingly, attendees get an opportunity to enjoy a creative way to experience their downtown and support the local economy!
Think your local residents, businesses and artists would like the opportunity to participate in an art walk? Here are some suggestions on where to start:
- An art walk can be an event coordinated by an existing organization, be the central function of its own organization or held by an artists / business cooperative. Start off by determining who will take charge and spearhead the project, what services will be provided and what amount of funding is needed.
- In terms of hosts, virtually any business with the appropriate display space can host one or more artists for an art walk. These can range from galleries, clothing boutiques and law firms, to cafes, bookstores and restaurants. If indoor space is lacking, artists can use spots outside business buildings, such as sidewalks and lots, to set up booths and tents to draw people to their stop and the business beyond.
- If you’re just starting out, try to find only a handful of participating businesses. If you have a location narrowed down, such as downtown, have literature prepared to distribute to business owners in-person, and be available to discuss.
- Individual artists can be found through local arts organizations, their personal websites, social media, galleries or even their artwork being featured in various shops and restaurants. Send out a press release through local media and your own website or social media that calls for artists. Businesses might even already have an artist in mind so check with them!
- Once you have your businesses and artists, nail down a schedule that everyone (or most) can agree on. Reliable schedules encourage both attendance and participation.
- Don’t forget to promote your art walk and spread the word however most effective!
Photo Credit: In Town Art