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First Coast

Downtown Jacksonville Art Walk Downsizing For Slow Months

Art Walk
Downtown Vision
A crowd gathers for the First Wednesday Art Walk in downtown Jacksonville.

This year Art Walk will continue to be a local staple, but with changes.

Every first Wednesday of the month visitors come in droves to see art, eat, and enjoy live music downtown.

Historically Laura Street has been closed off to motor vehicle traffic as pedestrians stroll back and forth from The Jacksonville Landing and Hemming Park.

Downtown Vision, Inc., the organizer of Art Walk, has announced plans to scale back the size of the event this year.

Katherine Hardwick, Vice President of Marketing for Downtown Vision, said organizers are switching from their “festival feel” Art Walks to a more traditional model for their slower months of the year.

Only four of the 12 walks this year will be festival style and include road closures, according to Hardwick.

The months with the largest numbers of attendees - March, June, August and October - will be in the festival style and have road closures.

“We’re going to encourage people to circulate more, to go and explore more,” Hardwick said. “They’re still going to see all of the fun they’ve seen in the past. It might just be on a smaller scale, and they’ll see it ramp back up with street closures and that party feel in March.”

The change is an effort to bring more attention to the businesses in the downtown area, and to adjust to the slower months. “Business off of the footprint don’t see as many people,” Hardwick said. “The businesses are why we do this event, we do this for the whole community but we really want to make sure our merchants are supported and to give them that visibility.”

While Laura Street won’t be closed for pedestrians to walk on, the art walk encourages visitors to walk around and explore shops.

The traditional model most of the walks will follow this year will encourage art walk goers to visit the local shops and explore the activities each has to offer. It will still have the outdoor components, such as art on the street, artists in Hemming Park, and live performers.

Scaling back on the size and price of the Art Walk will allow Downtown Vision to do more of the other components they do locally, such as holiday events and decorations. For example, the organization put up 40,000 Christmas lights on Laura Street for the holidays.

“With the ability to spend a little bit less on art walk but still keep it a fun experience we’ll be able to do more like that.  We are looking to hopefully expand in our holiday decorations moving forward for downtown,” Hardwick said.

Gabrielle Garay can be reached at newsteam@wjct.org, 904-358-6317.