After Canceling September Art Walk, Galleries Regroup 

Popularity has its disadvantages. For the stakeholders in the monthly First Fridays Art Walk, they've taken the form of three consecutive months of incidents involving out-of-school teens that this summer began attending the event en masse.

On the heels of the Aug. 5 art walk, where unruly behavior led to four arrests for disorderly conduct, organizers canceled September's event. The decision was reached Friday at a meeting attended by the owners of participating downtown art galleries and representatives from Mayor Dwight Jones' office and the Richmond Police Department.

Attendance at First Fridays during Labor Day weekend is traditionally low, says Christina Newton, the walk's lead organizer. "That coupled with the fact that we've had some violence during and after by visitors, we felt like it was a good time to take off." She says the break will allow for "more time to determine the next steps."

Asked whether there's cause for worry about the future of the event, Newton declines to say. "This issue is much larger than one month off," she says.

Indeed, the incidents attributed largely to the teenage attendees won't necessarily disappear once the fall semester starts. City officials unsuccessfully attempted to head off the problem with events targeting youth at the August edition. But only an estimated 400 attended the city-sponsored event, Newton says.

Largely credited with helping spur the revitalization of Broad Street, some downtown business owners have noticed a recent drop-off while the incidents continue. Now, some owners are offering ideas on how to move forward.

Geraldine Duskin, owner of Ghostprint Gallery, says she'd like the art walk to return to its roots. "The whole thing was trending toward a street festival," she says, "but I'm excited to have it return to a gallery event."

Scott Garnett, owner of Lift Coffee Shop, says that during recent First Fridays the sidewalks have been too congested for his customers to get in the doors. But he says there's a silver lining. Receipts may be down, but the issue has brought the downtown business owners together, he says: "I just don't think this chases people away from downtown."


Speaking of First Fridays

Latest in News and Features

Comments (2)

Showing 1-2 of 2

Add a comment

Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-2 of 2

Add a comment

Connect with Style Weekly

Most Popular Stories

  • How Bad Will It Get?

    How Bad Will It Get?

    VIDEO: An interview with Virginia’s state epidemiologist, Dr. Lillian R. Peake.
    • Mar 24, 2020
  • Shelter from the Storm

    Shelter from the Storm

    Will responses from shelters, landlords and service providers be enough to protect the vulnerable homeless population during a global pandemic?
    • Mar 24, 2020
  • New Normal

    New Normal

    A look back at a historic week that Richmonders won’t forget as the coronavirus changes life as we know it.
    • Mar 24, 2020
  • Gospel Gold

    Gospel Gold

    Local filmmaker scores a trove of rare footage of the Soul Stirrers shot by artist Bruce Conner.
    • Mar 17, 2020
  • More »

Copyright © 2020 Style Weekly
Richmond's alternative for news, arts, culture and opinion
All rights reserved
Powered by Foundation