Common Ground: ArtsWalks putting valley on the map
Jan 22, 2013 (The Wenatchee World - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --
It's been three years since the Wenatchee First Fridays ArtsWalk was launched and over that time period it has evolved into a valuable community asset that has encouraged individuals to appreciate the talents of local artists and has better connected artists with downtown businesses.
There's every reason to believe the valley can become a major arts destination for visitors to our region.
The First Fridays project continues to be done on a shoestring, with all-volunteer labor and no budget, thanks to the efforts of a couple of dedicated leaders -- artists Karen Dawn Dean and Kasey Koskey. Bill Reitveldt had been coordinating the effort, but he stepped down last fall to concentrate on pressing business at the Wenatchee Museum & Cultural Center.
The work that has been done to promote Wenatchee seems to have made an impact. The number of participating downtown business continues to grow (it fluctuates between six and 16 depending on the time of year. Summer events get the biggest crowds and higher business involvement. The First Fridays group prepares a brochure each month mapping out the participating businesses and the artists who will be showing at their works.
Koskey stopped by the office on Monday to talk about their progress. It started, she told me, with three goals: Helping artists make a go of it in the community, assist local businesses in generating traffic in their stores and building the number of people in the valley who appreciate the arts.
Getting the word out is where much of their attention has gone in recent months. Besides mentions in traditional media, the group's Facebook page is popular (Wenatchee First Fridays) and they have recently started blogging through The World's web site. Also in development, they are collaborating with the Wenatchee Valley Chamber of Commerce and the Visitors and Convention Bureau to produce a regular fax and email blast highlighting local arts and entertainment information. The publication is called Wenatchee Valley Live and it is expected to launch on Jan. 31.
The First Fridays ArtsWalk is weighted toward visual artists but other forms of art are encouraged, including music and even the culinary arts. There's nothing like mixing food and wine with art appreciation. It's a great way to build community.
The group is on the hunt for another volunteer to help share the load of publicizing the monthly events. It's a bit much for two people to handle.
The next ArtsWalk will be held on Friday, Feb. 1 from 5-8 p.m. in downtown Wenatchee. If you'd like to see my video interview with Koskey, please log onto wenatcheeworld.com and click on videos.
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