JP CENTER—Starting next month, the popular community art event First Thursday will run year-round.
Previously, First Thursday only took place May through September, with a special holiday December date. The evening, scheduled for the first Thursday in each month, features art openings, musical performances, shopping and dining in Centre and South street businesses.
“The business owners wanted it [to be year-round] so much,” said Randace Moore, executive director of JP Centre/South Main Streets, First Thursday’s organizers. “Demand came from them, specifically from South Street.”
“South Street is booming. It’s where most of the activity is,” she said.
Centre/South Main Streets board Vice President Mary Hannon was instrumental in making First Thursday’s expansion happen.
“I have been pushing for that for a long time,” Hannon told the Gazette. “It’s so popular that it doesn’t make sense to make decisions based on the weather…In the dead of winter, we’re all looking for things to do.”
“It may not be as wide-scale in January as it is in June, but [expanding it] makes a lot of sense,” Hannon said.
Due to budget cuts, however, Moore said that promotional materials for First Thursday, like balloons and posters, will have to be sacrificed. She said promo work will continue online.
“At this point, it kind of runs itself,” Hannon said.
Now in its seventh year, First Thursday’s goal is still to “drive foot traffic and spur economic growth,” Moore said. Hannon added that she sees it as a vital community-building exercise.
“We really need more community events. We can’t sit around [waiting] for the Wake Up the Earth Festival [in May] or the Lantern Parade [in October],” she said. Both of those events are organized by Spontaneous Celebrations, a JP arts nonprofit.
“There’s so many places where we can create community,” Hannon said.