Archive for Monday, June 21, 2010

Final Fridays’ event set to promote downtown Lawrence as a destination for the arts

Civic leaders hope to use festivities as a way to promote downtown as a destination

Lane Eisenbart, of Lawrence, looks over some of the entries of the Lawrence Art Auction. City leaders are hoping to have a new arts district operating by August.

Lane Eisenbart, of Lawrence, looks over some of the entries of the Lawrence Art Auction. City leaders are hoping to have a new arts district operating by August.

June 21, 2010


Downtown Lawrence leaders hope to paint a prettier economic picture with a new arts district that will be operating by August.

Jane Pennington, director of Downtown Lawrence Inc., confirmed that a group of local business organizations and artists have formed a not-for-profit company that will manage a new once-per-month art event.

“I think it can be a great economic engine,” Pennington said. “It will bring people downtown and they will spend money downtown.”

Organizers have filed the paperwork to create the Downtown Lawrence Arts District corporation. The new entity will do management work and marketing for Final Fridays, the preliminary name for an event that will feature everything from paintings to performances in downtown shops, restaurants, and even vacant storefronts.

The arts district is seeking a $10,000 grant from the Lawrence Cultural Arts Commission to help fund marketing of the event during its first year. The arts commission is recommending approval of the request, in part, because it has $10,000 left in its budget after it did not hold an outdoor sculpture exhibit in 2009. City commissioners will consider approving the request at their Tuesday evening meeting.

“With this $10,000, we’ll be able to do a pretty intensive marketing campaign for the first year,” Pennington said. “It will get into people’s heads that on the last Friday of every month, Lawrence is the place to be to view the arts. Then in future years we won’t need as much money to continue the marketing.”

The new corporation will be run by a board that includes members from Downtown Lawrence Inc., the Lawrence Arts Center, the chamber of commerce, the convention and visitors bureau, the arts commission and shop owners and artists.

Pennington said the new entity’s non-profit status will allow it to do private fundraising. Pennington believes the event will catch on with the community. She expects to have art at about 15 locations throughout the downtown on the last Friday of each month. Plans call for both visual arts and performance arts, with many of the venues inside stores or restaurants.

“You may be looking at bicycles one minute at Sunflower and then go upstairs and see a dance demonstration the next,” Pennington said.

The group also is working to convince downtown property owners to temporarily donate vacant storefronts to be used as galleries.

Tourism leaders said the district has potential, especially if the new arts district corporation can provide leadership in marketing and building the events.

“I think that organizing force will be very, very helpful,” Judy Billings, director of the convention and visitors bureau, said. “I think that is what can solidify and sustain the effort.

“It could be very positive. Arts-based and heritage based tourists are thought of as high spenders and good travelers.”


Raider 5 years, 3 months ago

So they're seeking a grant to copy First Friday in KC?

Ray_Finkle 5 years, 3 months ago

I think they are actually copying Final Friday from Wichita. They have been doing this for years.

mwagner8 5 years, 3 months ago

Actually First Fridays happen all over the country. They have them in Colorado and North Carolina cities just to name a couple

Kontum1972 5 years, 3 months ago when will the ART TAX be imposed by the city commission?

deres money in dem artists!

Kontum1972 5 years, 3 months ago when will the ART TAX be imposed by the city commission?

deres money in dem artists!

overthemoon 5 years, 3 months ago

I'd like the name "Last Friday" instead. Or something truly original. I know the 'First Friday' type name gives a reminder of the event every month, but it's just getting kind of tired.

jehovah_bob 5 years, 3 months ago

I can't wait for the Final Final Friday, 12/21/12. I heard it's going to be apocalyptic.

whats_going_on 5 years, 3 months ago

I'm not one for this conspiracy theory garbage, but the more I think about it, the more it sounds like it could happen. And I say that not in the sense that the world is going to end...blow up...implode...but as people we're all just going to go apesh*t on each other (more than we already are) and nuke ourselves out of existence.

jehovah_bob 5 years, 3 months ago

I am guessing self fulfilling prophecy.

puddleglum 5 years, 3 months ago

is this intended to attract MORE bums/panhandlers to the downtown district?

Dan Eyler 5 years, 3 months ago

I hope the arts commission don't get to carried away. I have been to communities that have a lot of art for sale. It took me about 15 minutes to realize that the price for the art work was way to expensive and I quickly became a looker and not a buyer. The pool of lookers become much larger than buyers. I hope no tax dollars are used to fund this. The pool of buyers will be tiny. But after the lookers are done they can go eat and drink on Mass like everyone else.

dogsandcats 5 years, 3 months ago

"Final Fridays" sounds too... final. Or reminds me of final exams. I'm not sure, but I don't like the name. Maybe "Last Fridays"? Or something else creative and people will just have to remember that it's the last Friday of the month.

I like the idea and absolute supporter of the arts, but I'm not sure how successful this will be, what with the short supply of good art in Lawrence. I'd much rather drive to KC for First Fridays. But then again, it's probably just a stunt to get people out and buying drinks.

Beth Ennis 5 years, 3 months ago

last year downtown had an art walk 3 times, April, July and Oct. We loved it! It was great to get out and walk around, eat dinner, look at all the art. It was even more fun to do with a few friends. Some of the Art was way too pricey, but not all of it. The gallery's in Lawrence aren't too bad. I hope it works out. As much as I enjoyed KC's first Friday, it's a long way to drive after a long week, so I'm looking forward to being able to just walk to downtown and enjoy the evening.

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