First Thursday brings art, community to businesses

June 25, 2010
By


Courtesy Photo Fresh from Los Angeles, singer/songwriter Deirdre Moncy will perform at First Thursday on July 1.

JP CENTER—Now in its sixth year, First Thursday, the art stroll, has grown exponentially since its start. This summer, 35 businesses along Centre and South streets will participate, transforming themselves into arts venues featuring works by local artists and live music the first Thursday of every month. Group and solo receptions at each location from 6 to 8 p.m. offer the community a chance to meet artists, enjoy refreshments and experience JP’s businesses in an entirely new light.

Arts and music venues are marked with sandwich boards and orange balloons along the way.

On July 1, First Thursday sponsor JP Centre/South Main Streets (JP CSMS) will host a large celebration at the Loring-Greenough House across from the Civil War monument. Events will include a group art show, face-painting for kids and a special concert by Los Angeles singer/songwriter Deirdre Moncy. Moncy, who grew up in Cambridge, presently resides in Hollywood, Calif. She graduated from the Musicians Institute in Hollywood and has performed in countless nightclubs in Los Angeles and on Martha’s Vineyard.

This year, the newly opened Temple Sound and Stage recording studio is hosting a First Thursday after-party at 8 p.m. after the openings. Temple will have live music and a group art show curated by Shamus Monahan. On July 1, their July 4th celebration will include music by the John Frazzee Trio. There will be a second performance by Moncy and Cotie Sanderson Coegil performing songs from her new CD, “Leave it blank.”

JP CSMS was established in 2002 by a dedicated board of directors composed of residents, merchants and other community leaders. The board developed the First Thursday program a year later with two primary goals in mind: to drive foot traffic and to spur economic growth in the Centre/South business district. These goals were achieved by asking the businesses to stay open later to host art shows that created an enjoyable evening for the community.

During the 1960s and 1970s, Americans shifted away from shopping in town centers to shopping in large suburban shopping malls. This left bustling downtown areas virtually abandoned, historic buildings emptied and businesses closed. As a result, many residents lost touch with their beloved neighborhoods. The National Main Street Center was launched in 1980 by the National Trust for Historic Preservation to help communities across the country revitalize their historic or commercial areas.

Main Streets came to Boston in 1983 when then City Councilor Thomas Menino sought the assistance of the National Main Street Center for the revitalization of Roslindale. The initiative attracted millions in investments and new jobs. As mayor, Menino established Boston Main Streets in 1995. Since then, the number of Main Streets programs has grown to 19, representing nearly every commercial neighborhood in Boston. Jamaica Plain also has Egleston Square Main Street and Hyde/Jackson Square Main Street.

For more information on JP CSMS and First Thursday, visit jpcentre/south.org. For a list of participating venues and music highlights, click on the blog. JP CSMS Executive Director Randace Rauscher Moore may be contacted at 522-0300. Moncy’s web site is deirdremoncy.com.

Submitted by JP Centre/South Main Streets.